My life outside the internet: Christmas edition

A new series called My Life Outside the Internet. Because I refuse to be a part of the dishonest Internet game any longer.20131221-073552.jpgEveryone is posting photos of their adorable home Christmas décor, and I’m like there is literally not one space in my house clean enough to sit, much less take a picture.

Everyone is busting out statuses and Instagrams of Christmas cheer, and I’m thinking ‘Teenager, you need to slowly back away from me, run, and pretend we never saw each other.”

Everyone is posting pictures of immaculately wrapped Christmas presents, and last night I found a baby shower gift I have yet to wrap…over a month after the shower.

Everyone is snapping pictures of their festive fingernail polishes, and I’m just wishing this toenail fungus would go away.

Everyone (well maybe just my favorite blogger) dyed her hair from dark brown to bleach blonde last week and it looks incredible, and I’m remembering when I went to the hair salon last month and wasn’t charged because I left with my hair such a disaster.

Everyone (well maybe just two of my good friends) were texting about the gourmet-ish meals they made last week while I was sitting on my dog hair-covered couch eating Ramen and Cheetos as a 27-year old.

Everyone is debuting stylin’ winter garb of boots and scarves and hats, and I’m just wishing I would unpack that suitcase I took to Arizona over a month ago.

Everyone’s lives are looking so perfect on the internet these days, and I’m wondering if I’m the only one who is so far behind on cleaning, gifting, cooking, sleeping and pretty much life in general?

And then there’s the real stuff.

The real emotions I feel as I walk beside my 19-year old friend living in the end stages of cancer.

The real feelings of helplessness as I watch friends battle anxiety and depression.

The real feelings of failure as I physically can’t be in as many places as people are asking me to be.

The real tears streaming from stories about Syria.

The real inability to be ourselves and fully express who we are and what we believe.

The real unfulfillment of feeling creatively claustrophobic in a job and the powerless feeling of being overwhelmed as the to-do list piles up.

The real feelings of betrayal toward a Christian institution that wronged a friend to an unforgiving degree.

The real angst-ridden confrontation in my thoughts of how to best befriend those that I know are lonely.

The real lack of words I can express when talking to friends experiencing fertility problems and miscarriages.

For this to be the most wonderful time of the year, it’s sure an easy season to feel less than. To compare myself in ways I didn’t even know I cared about. Insecurities, self-loathing, stress, chaos, worry and self-doubt seem to be enhanced in the glow of these merry and bright days.

But a sob story this is not. It’s simply a look into a real life that does not stop as the Christmas carols start.

I’ve been trying to take myself back to the manger. I say ‘trying’ because this socially connected world we live in can make it almost impossible to remember that while I am less than, He is more than. But. I’m trying.

I’ve been imagining the scene in my head almost daily. Imagining how different it must have been from what those familiar songs lead us to believe.

For a silent night it was not. A holy night, yes, but a silent night, no.

It was anything but perfectly planned, perfectly executed or perfectly put together. There were messes. There was stress. There was pain.

I’ve tried to envision Mary and Joseph scrounging to find a place to deliver a baby. The anxiety and uncertainty of their unborn child’s safety only adding to the strain of a birth. I see Mary hunched in shock as the contractions set in while Joseph’s wide yet tired eyes burst forth from his helpless reaction. The solidarity they might feel as she clenches his dusty hand with all of her might and they both taste the salty sweat drip from their brow.  The unsteady cries of a young girl wondering if she will even make it through the night. Mary and Joseph labored through real fear and real pain to bring forth a perfect being into their frightfully imperfect reality.

And born from that exhausting, terrifying night came hope for creation evermore.

Immanuel. God with us.

Most of my days are not Internet worthy. All is not usually calm and all is not always bright. For a silent life I do not live. A holy one I strive for, yes, but a silent one it is not. It’s tiring and messy and emotional. But hopefully it is this way because I am laboring to share a perfect hope and peace and joy with others found in their own frightfully imperfect reality.

Immanuel. God with us. God revealed in us.

So as we expectantly wait a few more days to celebrate Love come down, we remember that just like Mary we will make it through the night. That in the midst of those exhausting, terrifying hours shines the One who will banish night itself. And somewhere in the midst of our laughter and tears, our joy and sorrow, our satisfaction and hunger, we proclaim that Jesus in fact is not the reason for the season. He is quite simply the reason. And we messily, shakily, chaotically banish the night for others.

Last week I unbelievably found 6, yes 6, empty toilet paper rolls scattered around our bathroom floor. Maybe if I had done any sort of laundry in the last 4 weeks I would have seen them sooner, but no, I left those dirty clothes piling in the bathroom, and I didn’t get to those toilet paper rolls when I should have. And you know what?

It’s ok.20131221-073603.jpg

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A happy place

20131130-180905.jpgConfession. Pretty much everything I said in my last post never happened, except well, Opal is away. We didn’t make it to Arizona, and the eye twitch has worsened. Like, maybe-I- shouldn’t-drive worsened. It definitely wasn’t the Thanksgiving break we anticipated or planned. It’s been an emotional seven days. An uncertain seven days.

But still, there is much to be thankful for.

And one of those many things is how we spent our Saturday. My two bearded men and I headed over to a local tree farm to pick out our first Christmas tree. It’s my first time to have a real tree, whereas Walker looked in the mirror and proclaimed, “The blood of a 1,000 lumberjacks is running through my veins.” Obviously, he let us newbies know he’s a professional.

I loved wandering through the trees like a kid and spotting Walker’s head pop in and out of the rows. And hearing Jared choose his favorite trees, which all happened to be abnormally uniquely shaped. We walked away with one of the many perfect pines, and on the way home I asked if we could go back and pick another. I got denied. Lots of fist pumps for this family owned farm that provided us not only with a cherished tree but also some tangible cheer and merriment!

Yes, there is still much to be thankful for. 20131130-180954.jpg20131130-182400.jpgProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 preset20131130-180856.jpg20131130-180932.jpg20131130-180940.jpg20131130-182354.jpgProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetBesties at Kendricks20131130-180848.jpgKendricks20131130-180913.jpg20131130-180921.jpg

The cutest Christmas sweater ya ever did see

20131123-174638.jpgIt’s Thanksgiving breaaaaaaaaakkkkk!!!! And we just said bye to baby Opal for a whole week. Anybody else miss their dog-child a lot while apart? Like, a lot? But too many good things are happening to be sad. We saw Walker’s parents today, will see two sets of good friends tomorrow, and Monday brings us a trip home to Tucson. Raise. That. Roof. Plus, I think these 9 full days away from work (thank you public schools) will help relieve this freaking eye-twitch I’ve been putting up with for a week or so. Missing you baby Opes, but between now and our next big hug, we’ve got a lot of fun in store. Happy Thanksgiving! 20131123-174630.jpg

Happy Birthday! Mother Dearest!

mommaHappy birthday Debbie Foster! Whom I affectionately call Mom!

Here’s hoping you get to wake up early and go to bed by 7 p.m., thus making it a wonderful day for you! In honor of your special day, I might eat chicken breast or broccoli for dinner tonight. But probably not. Thanks for double octuple checking my passport location and molding me into the most cautious traveler around. And for spoiling me with shopping trips and sushi dates even in adulthood! You’ve shown me what it means to work hard, to laugh a lot, to appreciate different cultures, to write thank-you notes and to think every little animal is cute.  I gave it to dad on his birthday, so I will give it to you on yours. For today and today only, you are the funniest member of the family. Enjoy your 24 hours!

To the woman who taught me about showing mercy to all people in every situation, except when it came to the soccer field, happy birthday!!

Love you!

Katie Carroll

Happy Two!

Happy anniversary to us! 20130917-221408.jpgThere wasn’t much time in our day for any type of formal celebration. In between work and Bible study we managed to fit in a few minutes of alone time. We picked up a couple slices of cookie cake (OK, a slice for me and 3 cookies of variety for him) and took them to a nearby park to enjoy together. Between a sketchy truck and the little kids loving life, there was some quality people watching going on.

We seem to have a couple of traditions we picked up for our anniversary–rain and sickness. Sadly, there was no rain today to make it 3 years in a row, but Walker is pretty sick so at least we were able to keep one alive! Today I won’t say too much about marriage and the past two years, as I still hold to what I said here. At times marriage is easy and at times it is crazy hard, but in all times I am thankful for the one I’m journeying with.

Last year’s anniversary posts here, here, and here.  20130917-221449.jpg

And now for a little Blogtember: A memory you would love to relive.

I guess for today it would be fitting to say our wedding, and yes, I would do that day again in a heartbeat. But I think this next picture (or four pictures) better represents the memories I would love to relive. Or at least remember really well. And hold on to. After devouring our cookie cake, we took a few minutes for some pictures to document our 2 year mark. This last set all started with that very first picture. You know, the one where Walker looks blind and REALLY excited about it! I think I eventually stopped laughing 5 minutes down the road somewhere. These are my favorite memories. Uninhibited responses of joy. It’s the ordinary, everyday moments that I would like to relive.

And when I could eat an entire box of Kraft Mac & Cheese without getting sick. I’d totally relive those days.

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Happy Life Day!

Happy Valentines Day! We are out of this world busy right now, so all romance is getting overlooked in our house this year. No décor. No dinners. Nada. But I thought I’d take a minute to be thankful.

Each year on February 14 my mom and grandmother choose not to celebrate Valentines Day—at least in the traditional sense. They celebrate Life Day—not primarily focusing on the ‘love’ aspect of the cupid’s holy day but instead on the beauty of life.

Twenty-eight years ago these two women became survivors.

On Valentines Day 1985, the year before my glorious entrance into this world, my mom and one of her best friends were victims of a school shooting in Temple, TX. Both were shot and both are alive today. At the same time my mom was admitted to the emergency room, my Grandmother was wheeled out of her cancer surgery.

Not only did one of these dynamos actually give me life, they have both taught me how to live life. Teaching me daily not to sweat the small stuff but to focus on relationships with people. Encouraging me in academics and enthusiastically supporting my travels. Modeling compassion for the least of these and grace for all. Demonstrating integrity, commitment, responsibility and humor. They are much better at these things than me (except humor, I’m claiming that one), but I continue to learn from their example. It’s safe to say that every day is Life Day for them.

This year on Valentines Day, I intentionally celebrate two inspiring ladies whose lives have been so interwoven with love that when I celebrate them, I can’t help but celebrate love, too.

Happy life and love day to each of you, today and every day!20130214-125711.jpg

PS. I lied. We did at least acknowledge Valentines in our house last night. You know, when Walker gave me his gift—new toothpaste. I’m a lucky lady!

Happy Birthday, Pops!

Happy birthday to the best dad around!

You’ve braided and crimped my hair, saved my life when I swallowed gum, been to every soccer game that didn’t interfere with Sunday mornings and obviously allowed me to be the most stylin’ toddler there ever was or could be. Thanks for all you do- you know- like correcting my grammar and doing my wedding. For today, you can hold the title of funniest family member. Tomorrow, I take it back.

We love you! Happy birthday!

the bear, the son-in-law, and the grandpuppy20130129-122757.jpg

Happy Birthday, Opal!

Opal Lou turned 1 today! She made it a year, so I guess this gives us hope for our future children. There was really no option besides throwing her a little surprise birthday party complete with pupcakes. And let’s just say, she loves pupcakes. Thanks to Jared for helping us bake these treats!

Along with a new toy, we gave her her first pair of Doggles to help her open her squinty eyes when she hangs her head out the car window. I’m not sure she’s a fan of those yet, but we sure are.

It was an entertaining little afternoon celebration, and some people might think we are crazy, but I just think we are fun. The only thing we will do differently next year is send out invitations, because we had several people wanting to join in on the fun!

Opal, we love you. And we are unhealthily obsessed with you. Happy Birthday!

candlecollagecakecollage1dogglessexytiredoutsideAnyone looking to make pupcakes should click here! We made our own icing out of peanut-butter and smashed bananas.

Happy New Year!

Well, we’ve finally come to the junction of 2012 and 2013. No, literally, I’m typing this as we ring in the new year in our hotel room in Junction, TX. Only 7 hours left of our drive home from Tucson!

I remember sitting at a sushi dinner with two friends earlier this year discussing the highs and lows of 2012, and we unanimously decided we were eager to welcome 2013. The year so far had already delivered some blows. Walker and I agree that 2012 has taken us to the highest of mountains and the lowest of valleys. I wouldn’t describe it as only a roller coaster but maybe as the Titan.

From two doctors recommending I have a brain scan to check for a tumor or MS to getting to travel to Ethiopia. From our teenage friend getting cancer to bringing home our baby Opal. From saying goodbye to some of our best friends who moved away to welcoming new ones to town. From watching ones we love endure suffering to celebrating with so many friends on their wedding days and pregnancies. We’ve laughed until we cried and cried until all we could do was laugh. From all the scary and disappointing to the joyous celebrations and everything in-between, 2012 has been…well, it’s been a year of real life.

So as we exit this roller coaster here in Junction, having just spent time with both our families and close friends, we choose to see love. We see the love we felt from our family and friends (near and far) when you chose to cry with us and rejoice with us. So, while we hope that 2013 will be full of less medical bills and more trips to Africa, if that’s not the case, it’s Ok, because 2012 was full of love, and so will 2013 be also.

We are armed with a bottle of Martinelli’s, a bed to jump on, a restless puppy and each other. And at 12:01, we will go to bed.

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