Happy birthday to my main man. I’ll spare this blog the sappy stuff, so just let me say: My life is more beautiful with you in it. You make me laugh more than anyone else in this world. You’re awesome, and I love you. Here’s to the next 26 – may there be garages full of gear, tables full of friends, fridges full of beer, seasons full of UNC wins, months full of travel, and moments full of love.
My dad loves goals, and if there’s one thing I’ve heard him say about goals, it’s that the best way to achieve them is to write them down. So it’s with that in mind that I’m ready to put finger to keyboard and share my 2013 list. I’ve tried to keep them somewhat realistic (so maybe I can actually overachieve this year?) and I’m trying to remember grace, not perfection. So here goes.
- Read 25 books this year, including at least 5 non-fiction.
- Rejoin the gym. Exercise 3 times per week.
- Use my Canon at least once per week. Learn how to use the dang thing.
- Run another race, maybe a 10-miler, and train for time (not just for survival).
- Finish 10 pieces of jewelry and post them.
- Keep up with my Bible-reading plan.
- Post more regularly on this blog. Include moodboards. And more outfits?
- Style another photoshoot.
- Take a weekend trip with Michael.
- Go camping with friends.
- Lend my styling skills to a non-profit event.
- Organize the blogs I read in Reader or Bloglovin.
- Attend a skills-improving workshop (ideally, one of these) or volunteer on-site with another professional.
- Give this blog a facelift.
- Acquire artwork for our home.
- Plan meals each week. Learn basic kitchen skills (help, anyone?).
Do you have resolutions or goals? Leave a link in the comments. I’d love to hear them.
Image by Jose Villa
New Year’s Eve has never quite lived up to its rad and rowdy reputation for me. I think Christmas takes it all out of me, so by the time NYE rolls around, I’m out of energy to plan a party. So this year, we decided to do things differently. We ordered Chinese take-out, bought some ice cream and headed home to build a romantic fire. We were going to keep things low key. I was skeptical at first. (Doesn’t NYE require a fancy dress and glitter? Won’t I be missing out on all the crazy fun and smooching that everyone else in the world is having at midnight?) But then I thought – shut up, brain! Here is the man you love, building you a romantic fire and lighting candles! There’s General Tso’s and Ben and Jerry’s to be had! You can spend the evening snuggled up together, dreaming about the future and talking about how awesome 2012 was. This started to sound more and more perfect.
… And then our house filled with smoke.
Lights on, food put to the side, candles blown out, windows and doors thrown open, and throats burning, the next hour or so of our NYE was spent aerating our home in 30 degree weather.
Ah, isn’t that how life is? The best laid plans go awry. Our lives are interrupted by wrong turns and things don’t go as expected. I tend to hold tightly to plans. I like things to turn out exactly like the perfect picture I imagine. But this NYE (and this year) I tried to remind myself: Grace, not perfection. Grace allows me to move forward more quickly, grace allows me to love more fully, grace makes room for the unexpected.
Once the fire had subsided, we had to laugh. We got into pj’s, grabbed the ice cream and champagne, and climbed into bed. Our house smelled like a dirty ashtray. There were no candles. I wasn’t wearing a pretty dress. And we fell asleep at 11pm. But we did have a great conversation about our past year and our hopes for the new one. We laughed over memories and thanked God for our blessings. We drank all the champagne. NYE 2012: It was a good one.
How did you spend New Year’s Eve? Got a great story like mine?
*image source unknown
Our presents are shipped, our bags are packed, and I’m counting down the hours until I’ll be home for Christmas! This year we are heading to Chicago to spend Christmas with my family. I can’t wait to wake up in my parents’ house in the quiet of an early morning (hopefully with snow!) and come downstairs to find the coffee already brewed and my mom keeping a seat warm for me on the couch in the reading room. My parents have only been back in Chicago since I left for college, so I’ve technically never lived in this new house, but they both really know how to make it feel like home. I love that.
Earlier this week, I shared our Christmas Card. I thought I’d also share some of the other ways we’ve made Joyce family Christmas traditions. Traditions are important to me, and even though we’re only in our second year of our marriage and we’re only a ‘family’ of two, I’ve wanted to be really intentional about creating memories and establishing our own family customs. I think traditions say something about what we value and, in a way, shape who we are over time. In the middle of the busyness and cacophony of shopping malls and Santas, I want us to have places that we come back to each Advent that remind us of what we believe and what we love most. Some of them are defining moments that really point to the core of who we are and some of them are simple and light-hearted – small joys that speak of love and goodness in a world that can seem so dark sometimes.
I also had to learn that we, the two of us, are our own clan. So we can’t just take the traditions of our own families and mash them up and expect them to be just as meaningful. I come from a family of three girls. One of our traditions growing up was to watch White Christmas and traipse around the living room, singing “Sisters, Sisters” with our very own Butler Sisters lyrics. I tried this with Michael. He didn’t look as pretty in a blue feather boa as we’d both hoped.
This year our traditions included:
1. Getting our first Starbucks holiday drink and heading out to pick out our tree, then decorating it while listening to our favorite Christmas tunes (Otis Redding is high on the list).
3. An Advent Calendar. This year I made an Advent Calendar for Michael. I took 25 paper bags and numbered them, placing a small surprise (Joe Joe’s from Trader Joe’s) or a note of love or appreciation or an outing (tonight we’re going to drive around and look for the best Christmas lights or let’s bake cookies for our neighbors!) in them and tying them up with twine. This was a great way for me to love Michael and for us to love our friends and community. Some days we were too tired to do what was written in the bag, so we gave grace when needed.
4. Behold the Lamb. This Andrew Peterson & friends concert has become a must for us. The music is beautiful and the different artists he brings on tour with him each year are so talented.
Do y’all have special family traditions? I’d love to hear your ideas!
Merry Christmas, bloggin’ friends! I hope this season of Advent has brought you a bit more hope in this time of grief, a bit more light in this present darkness. As part of our little Joyce family Christmas traditions (if you’ve done it twice, it’s a tradition in my book!), we sent out Christmas cards. I love Christmas cards. This year, we’ve hung them all up on the back of our front door so every time I leave the house, I’m bid farewell by all these beautiful friends and families. I love watching families grow through Christmas cards – new babies, graduations, weddings. This year when we finally had a moment to sit down and choose our card through Minted (we use them every year!), we realized that shoot! Not a single decent photo of the both of us from the whole dang year? Good thing I have such amazingly talented photographer friends. I quickly thought of Lucy of Lucy O Photo, and I’m so glad I did. Lucy graciously offered to take our photos one Sunday morning before church with one condition – she wanted red lips. My response? Duh.
Lucy was amazing. If you’re in need of a family photo or a wedding photographer, Lucy is one of the best. And – major bonus – she shoots film. In the 30 minutes we spent with her, I think we got some of my favorite, most authentic photos as a couple. Lucy made us feel comfortable in our own skin, and she just knew what poses were going to work and what backdrops were best. Ah, Lucy, I love you!
Now before you peruse our pics, I must warn you: my hubs is smokin hot. Like, I might have fallen in love with him all over again looking at these. So just be warned – you might develop a crush (it’s easier to do so than you might think). But… he’s taken, ladies.Gosh, I love that last one. My man is so handsome when he laughs. Such a perfect moment.
30 people. 3 sailboats. 1 week in paradise. We just got back from sailing around the British Virgin Islands, y’all! As you might expect, it was amazing. One part camping and one part Caribbean vacation, this trip was adventurous, beautiful, and pretty affordable. We are SO blessed to have incredible friends – Will & Carrie – who grew up sailing and organized the entire trip, including our itinerary, boat rentals, budget, and groceries. And thank you to more talented friends – Win & Mason – who captained our boat, L’Attitude II. I know nothing about sailing, and because of these awesome people, the trip was relaxed, carefree, and just about perfect.
I had never been to the Caribbean before and always pictured lounging at some resort, staring into the clear cerulean waves from a white, sandy beach. And we’ve done the resort thing before (our honeymoon in Costa Rica), and it is everything it’s cracked up to be. But I have to say – sailing is the way to go. It was just… gorgeous. And so fun. We had 3 boats between all of us friends, so we’d caravan across the waters each morning to our next destination. We saw giant turtles, flying stingrays (no idea they did that!), and lots of pretty fish. We snorkeled almost every day, played sand volleyball, hiked around for some amazing views, and drank too many rum cocktails (the rum is amazingly cheap down there!).
It was also our first real ‘friend vacation’ as a married couple. We’ve done trips by ourselves and trips with our families, but this vacation was entirely different. Most of the people were Michael’s friends from college, and it was a blast for me to get to know them better and to make some memories as a couple with them. Vacations with friends are something I hope we do every year.
I could go on and on, but I’ll hold off. Have you ever been to the BVIs? What did you do there?!
I was so thrilled this morning when I saw that our wedding was published on Style Me Pretty! Congratulations to our amazing photographer, Jon Schaaf! The day was seriously such a labor of love from so, so many family and friends. I get emotional just thinking about each of you, and I hope if you’re reading this and were part of our day, you know how deeply we care for you. It is amazing to see how all of the details (the jewelry, the bow ties, the lace tablescapes, the Nana’s-tea-in-a-mason-jar favors, paper suite, ceremony music – seriously, do you know my aunt and Sam Bush?!, my father’s prayer, the toasts, the candlelit sendoff) came together, but it is even more incredible knowing the beautiful faces who cheered our pronouncement and danced the night away with us!
I had so much fun designing, styling, and planning my wedding, and now with a few more styling jobs under my belt (you’ll be seeing them once they’re published!), I’ve decided to take on a few select weddings or events. If you’re interested in chatting, please reach out! I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by leaving a comment here! Let’s get a party started!
Last week we celebrated our first anniversary. On my wedding day, as my bridesmaids can attest, I cried all morning. I was just so overwhelmed – by my love for Michael, by my utter disbelief that he had chosen me, by the gratitude I felt toward my beautiful parents, and by the joy that came with knowing that God had come close. I held my sisters’ hands, smiling and laughing, and cried, I talked on the phone with a bridesmaid who was living in Africa and unable to be at the wedding and cried, I prayed and I cried. I was a mess! I pulled it together for my makeup to be done and by the time I walked down the aisle, my tears had ceased and I was ready.
A year later, I’m the same. A year of marriage has only deepened the roots of those feelings; I have only become more saturated with gratitude; I have only become more keenly aware of the grace that permeates my life. I don’t deserve this humble, incredibly handsome, hilarious man and the life we are building together each day. The small moments are the best: waking up to his whispering “Good morning, cute girl.” or jogging around our neighborhood, talking about our days or discovering the totally weird things we each do. Having a partner: It’s a gift I don’t take for granted. I remember being told over and over before we got married that I needed to know how hard marriage is. And I know that to be true. Any time you deal with a whole person and all their imperfections, life is going to be hard, raw, and real. But what I wish people had emphasized was the deep-seated joy. Not just happiness but joy, the kind that grows from shared experiences, selfless moments, and the times where you see God more clearly at work because you see yourself being shaped by your marriage. It’s a sweet thing.
Thanks for taking care of me last week when I wasn’t feeling well (including that late night trip to Wendy’s for french fries, which, I admit, is indeed a strange craving when one is ill. Also, thanks for knowing to get two orders of fries. You’re the best). Thanks for always saying “yes” when I ask if I can leave the light on a bit longer so I can read before bed. It’s nice to know you’re next to me, and I’ve finished some wonderful books. Thanks for not saying anything about the pile of discarded clothes that I have allowed to grow to an obscene height on my side of the room. I know it bothers you, and I promise to take care of that soon. Thanks for encouraging me to take practical steps toward my goals. The idealist in me is forever grateful. And thanks for indulging that idealism. It’s so good to know that you believe in me, that you will cheer on my ideas, and that I can trust you to bring me back down to earth.
I have a lot more to be thankful for, like how good you look in a pair of dark jeans or how your beignets are out of this world, but I think I’ll leave it at that for this week. Glad you’re my best friend.
PS – Go Heels!
Image of husband looking totally handsome by me