Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas (Mexico) 2013

This past December 24, Greg and I had the opportunity to travel to my hometown in Mexico for Christmas Eve/Day! We left Minnesota very early in the morning. We were thankful for very few airport travelers that day (aka no security lines) least in Minnesota. :-) We met up with my sister's fiance (surprise visit) at the airport in Texas. My dad and brother picked us up in Texas, and then we headed to Mexico.

Christmas Eve (at Aunt Becky's)

Family Picture


My dad and my grandmother Elva (his mom)


My green-eyed grandmother Rebeca (mom's mom) ;-)

Every year, we sing, "kids" outside and "adults" inside, asking for a posada (inn/shelter). Basically, it is a song that recreates Joseph and Mary's search for a place to stay. Some families/churches dress up to play the parts of Mary and Joseph. We never dress up. Traditionally, posadas are held the nine days (I think) ending in December 24th. A song is sang outside someone's home (with consent) and the community usually has a night of prayer and light snacks. The people outside the home sing the part where Joseph and Mary are asking for a place to stay. The people inside the home sing the part of the innkeeper saying that there is no room. The song goes back and forth/inside and outside until the "innkeeper" lets them in.

Thought you might find it interesting. :-)
The "kids" asking for posada.
Greg and I were also part of the kids.

I took a video, too. Unfortunately, I can't upload it. :-( 

Christmas money-saver: Put your name on a cup and use it the entire night!
We had the idea of doing this last year, and now we do it in every single get-together/party.

(Ale is my middle name, by the way)

Christmas Day (at my house)

Our we-just-woke-up-and-showered-Christmas picture. 

Our Christmas Tree.
We have had it for as long as I can remember.

Mom makes it every.year.

This man was in the kitchen every 30 minutes or so.
Just kidding.
But he did enjoy eating!

Christmas - 1
Greg - 0

I am so grateful we were able to spend this holiday with my/our family. Many memories made! 

I hope you enjoyed the pictures and learned a bit about our traditions! 

Happy New Year! May God bless you abundantly this 2014. 

Much Love,

Monday, December 23, 2013

December and All Things Christmas Time

Merry Christmas to all!

Greg and I held a "Cookies & Milk" Christmas party yesterday. We celebrated Christmas a little earlier with his parents, sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews. I discovered that if I leave the cookies in the oven just one more minute than the recommended time, the cookies will be very crunchy. Thankfully it was my last batch! ;-) Unfortunately (or fortunately?), no pictures were taken (well, I think I took two with my phone), as we were busy eating cookies, drinking milk, opening presents. The party eventually turned into an indoor pool party! Random, I know.

Greg and I are heading to my parents' house for Christmas (Mexico)! As a Christmas Eve tradition, we gather at my Aunt Becky's house and Christmas Day, we gather at my house. My mom already told me about all the mouth-watering food she is making. She always makes the same meal every Christmas. My grandmother makes a delicious cake that is only to be eaten on Christmas Day. I'll be writing the recipe this year! Speaking of going to my parent's house, it's going to feel weird "visiting" as a couple, as opposed to Greg being the visitor. It's also kind of a weird feeling knowing that the family is growing/changing - eventually making new traditions. A good, weird feeling, nonetheless.

Anywho, here are some pictures of December randomness - most of them taken with my phone.

Hot cholocate goodness. Yum!

I tried using my creative side to make a bag. It was decent. 
The paper was upside down, though. Oops! ;-) 

Building a fort.
We put a bunch of baby animals to sleep.
I was a mother of 10!


Isn't he a cutie?

Apron my mom made for me.
(She made a ton of aprons for the ladies who went to my bridal shower)

One of the two pictures of the "Cookies & Milk" party.
I am thinking this could be a good, new tradition for our family.

Our first Nativity set - purchased for $1!
We will probably invest in another one once we have a house, but this little, wooden one is perfect. Especially for Christmas storytelling in the future.

Greg and I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas!

Do you have any traditions?

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:11 


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

One Year: Gathering in His Name


My blog turns ONE today!

I remember telling my sister I wanted to create a blog. I thought about it for a long, long time. And then, BOOM! A YEAR. I've been on this blogging journey for an entire year!

This blog has blessed and challenged me in more ways than I could imagine. One of the things I love most about blogging is the ability to read through older posts and see the hand of God, fully in control of my life.
Sometimes, I must confess, I wonder why I even continue blogging. Then, I remember why I started blogging.

To document and capture life.
To build friendships - even one.
To know your story.
To become a better writer/thinker (I have no desire to write a book - I just love to write).
In some way, to find out who I am and who I am becoming - intentional living.
To explore my Christian denomination and challenge/strengthen my beliefs. Does this make sense? Probably not.
To encourage each other in Christ.
To spread the Gospel (after all, we are all missionaries, one way or another).

The list goes on.

I am thankful for the long-distance friendships I have gained through this blog. It is so neat to see how God is working in your life! I have been so encouraged. I am also thankful for the texts/calls I receive from friends who are not in the blogging world, but yet they read this blog, where they encourage me, tell me I've encouraged them or they simply tell me it's great to get to "know" me better.

I am looking forward to many more years, building community, with you.

He is so faithful.

Why, then, do I set before You an ordered account of so many things? It's certainly not through me that You know them. But I'm stirring up love for You in myself and in those who read this so that we may all say, great is the Lord and highly worthy to be praised. I tell my story for love of Your love. - Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

Under Grace,
For His Glory,

Saturday, December 14, 2013

How Great is Our Joy!

This child born to be our King, goodwill to men His name will bring
He touched the sick and made them well, He died my death and conquered hell


(How Great is Our Joy - Austin Stone Worship; Original lyrics: While by the Sheep - N. F. Von Spee)

I thought I would share with you lyrics to one of my new, favorite Christmas songs - and a picture of my sister and I. ;-)

I love this song/hymn because it points to the gospel. Our Savior. The manger. The cross.

I hope your weekend - and this Christmas season - is full of joy!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe) has held a special place in the hearts of people in Mexico and all over the world throughout generations.

In my town, she holds a place of honor (not worship). We have a Catholic church, downtown, bearing her name (place where Greg and I were married). One of the ways residents of my town, and all over Mexico, celebrate her feast day by having families and neighbors get together at a home for a celebration. I wish I could go into all the details that encompass this day! It would take me several posts to explain the symbolic significance.

I just love, love my Lady.

If you are interested, here is the story of her apparition:

Early morning, on December 9, 1531, a peasant, Juan Diego, saw on the slopes of Tepeyac Hill (now Mexico City) a vision of a girl, surrounded by light. Speaking to him in the local language (Nahuatl), she asked that a church be built at that site, in her honor. Juan Diego recognized this girl as the Virgin Mary. Juan Diego then told the Spanish Archbishop about the apparition. The Archbishop told him to go back to the hill and ask the Lady for a miraculous sign to prove her identity. The Blessed Mother told Juan Diego to gather roses and arrange them in his peasant tilma cloak. It was December and roses where not blooming at that time. However, Juan Diego found Castillian roses (flowers not native to Mexico) at the usually barren hilltop. On December 12, 1531, Diego went to the Archbishop and opened his cloak. The flowers fell to the floor, and in their place was the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, miraculously imprinted on the fabric. 

A year and a half ago, I had the opportunity to visit the place of her Marian apparition, in Mexico City. Here are some pictures I took of the Marian shrine. Enjoy!

The original tilma of Saint Juan Diego, whose feast day is December 9.
(The public is able to see a close-up the tilma via a small corridor that runs underneath the altar)

Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Thousands, upon thousands of people gather here on her feast day (today)!
This is where the tilma is located. However, it isn't the original place of where it was first located.

Within walking distance is Tepeyac Hill (original place)!

To get to the hilltop, we had to climb a lot of stairs. Some people climb these stairs on their knees as penance.
Here is the entrance.

Hill of Tepeyac!

One more thing, if you want to listen to the song that will be sung today, all over Mexico, here is the link of a version: It's sung in Spanish and some Nahuatl. 

Whether this Lady holds a special place in your heart, or not, I hope you experience and feel the Love of our Savior Jesus Christ and our Blessed Mother today, every day!

"Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!" And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindufl of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me - holy is his name." Luke 1: 45-49


Monday, December 9, 2013

Silver: 25 Years

One day, a girl (who, at the time, was around 23 years old) asked her parents if she could go on a trip to the beach with her friends. 
The beach was about 910 miles away. 
Her parents said no, unless her younger sister accompanied her.
The girl hesitated, but she allowed her younger sister to tag along.

One night, while at the beach, the girls went out for dinner. 
The younger sister was approached by the restaurant server with a flower for her!
A boy had sent the flower to her. 
The boy was on vacation with his friends, too.
They met for the first time.
Surprisingly, they found out they were from the same town!
Was it a mere coincidence?

When they both returned from their vacation, they met again.
They lived close by.
Her parents knew his parents (but they didn't see each other often).
They had friends in common.

She liked the boy.
The boy pursued her. He liked her long, curly hair.
They fell in love.
25 years ago, today, the boy and the girl said, "I do!".

She was 20. He was 22.

Gracias, Mami y Papi, por mostrarnos a mis hermanos, a mi hermana y a mi como se ve un amor y una gracia incondicional. 
(Thank you, Mom and Dad, for showing my brothers, my sister and I, what unconditional love and grace looks like.)


Friday, December 6, 2013

Living an intentional prayer [request] life

"I'll pray for you"

"How can I pray for you?"

I admit I have heard and said these words. God knows I sometimes fail at remembering to do it and, therefore, failing to pray for whom I made this promise.

That being said, I want to be more intentional in my prayer [request] life. Some days, I genuinely try to have a quiet time in prayer for the intentions of others. Some other days...well.

I have to stop making excuses.

"He Shall Hear My Voice" by M. Dudash
When I was in college, I was part of a community church group that gathered on Thursdays. When our time was almost up, we went around in a circle and asked if anyone had any prayer requests. I would usually write them down in a little notebook that my sister gave me and pray for these intentions throughout the week. It was awesome to go back through these prayer requests and see how God, in some way, had answered. Talk about the power of prayer!

Sometimes (not all the time, sadly), when I tell someone I will pray for them, I write the intention on that same little notebook. I do the same for people in my blogging community or my friends on Facebook (even if they don't mention they are in need of prayer).

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." James 5: 16

I now have a question for you.

What measures do you take to remain intentional in prayer? Do you have any prayer requests (you can email me if that makes you feel more comfortable)?

(These past few days, I have had some time to think. I want to live [more] intentionally. On my marriage, the friendships that I have, my blog, my extended family, etc. My prayer life was a "biggie". Thus, the random post!) 

I am so thankful for you.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Proverbs 31 Nurse

Florence Nightingale
By Lois Sigmon Turley, RN

Who can find a good-natured nurse?
For her price is far above silver and gold.
She seeks medicines and skills,
and works willingly with others.

She gives of herself
and considers her own desires last.
A heartwarming smile is hers,
and is made beautiful in her eyes.

She girds herself with honor
and strengthens her ability with patience.
She perceives that her work is good.
Her candle does not go out by night.
She lays her hands upon understanding.

She stretches out her hand to the poor;
yes, she reaches forth hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of sorrow,
for her trust is in God.
Pride and humility are her clothing,
and she shall rejoice in the time to come.

She opens her mouth with comfort,
and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
Her associates rise up and call her blessed;
her patients also and they praise her kindness.

Many daughters have helped others,
but you excel them all.

Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a nurse that fears the Lord,
she shall be praised.

Give her the fruit of her hands
and let her own works praise her
in the halls of nursing.


Aspiring to be a Proverbs 31 woman and nurse.