Saturday, December 31, 2016

Farewell 2016

Let me start by saying that 2016 was a really great year. For a brief time, I was actually feeling badly about stating that. I know for many people 2016 was tainted with bad experiences, heartbreaks and turmoil. It has been a very rough year for a handful of our family and friends as well. I seriously contemplated downplaying all of the goodness that the last 12 months offered us. I was extremely tempted to dwell on all of the trials we faced over the course of the year, but I couldn't bring myself to do that. I quickly realized that I shouldn't dilute God's goodness or my joy just because others are journeying through different seasons of life.

This year brought its own set of challenges; ones that surely stretched us + gave us the opportunity to grow. It also brought about many changes; some in which we were ready for, while others came without warning. I'm choosing to focus on all the good that God has done throughout the year, because it surely outweighed the bad. Between Garrett getting his GED then going back to school, having the extra funds to become Disney annual passholders, buying our first car + being able to quit one of three jobs I had been working, it has been a great year. I'm thoroughly thrilled to see what God has in store for 2017!

If this year's been difficult for you, I'm praying you'll find strength in God's promise to never leave or forsake you. We'll always face troubles in this life, but rest in the assurance that you'll never face those troubles alone.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Epcot's Candlelight Processional

We ventured to Disney this past Monday. It kinda feels like we live there these days. We've tried our best to take full advantage of our annual passes since purchasing them back in May. After noticing an advertisement for Epcot's candlelight processional inside of their monthly newsletter, I knew that we had to try to go. Honestly, I hadn't even heard about this specific performance before seeing the ad for it. The show features a 50-piece orchestra and choir that perform a handful of traditional holiday songs, as well as a guest celebrity who retells the biblical story of Christmas. There were only two days that would have worked with our schedules, both days being narrated by Edward James Olmos (Commander Adama for all of my fellow Battlestar Galatica fans out there). As soon as I saw that he'd be the one narrating the story, I was geeking out quite a bit (just ask G).

Now, there were no tickets required for the show specifically. However, in order to receive guaranteed seating we had to make lunch or dinner reservations at one of Epcot's restaurants. They were offering dining packages that included an appetizer, entrée, dessert, and nonalcoholic beverage for each person in a party, as well as a guaranteed seat for the performance. After some consideration, we decided to make a dinner reservation (the night before we planned to go) at the only restaurant that still had openings Coral Reef Restaurant. Since the price was higher than we would normally pay (but still totally worth it), I declared that the evening would be counted as an early birthday celebration for myself since I'll be stuck at work on my actual birthday.

We seriously could not have picked a better place to have dinner. The food was delicious and our waiter had the best personality. He was extremely helpful and took care of my mom's (diabetic) dietary needs without hesitation. Our reservation was at 4:05 PM on Monday afternoon, which left us plenty of time to get to the other side of the World Showcase by 6:45 PM for the show after we finished eating. We had to wait in line for about 45 minutes before we were seated, but it went by quickly. I was so excited whenever I realized that we'd be seated in the second row from the stage, giving all three of us a clear view of the narrator.

Edward Jame Olmos did such a phenomenal job at narrating the Christmas story. You could really tell that he loves doing it too. From the instruments to the vocals, the whole performance was incredible. I found myself getting goosebumps as the orchestra played and the choir belted out the words of my favorite Christmas songs. At one point, the audience (myself included) joined in singing Silent Night with the performers onstage. It was such a beautiful sight to witness, especially after seeing the recent rise in animosity that's been displayed by a portion of our country. If you ever have the opportunity to see this show, jump on it!

Friday, December 02, 2016

Goals for December

As you all know, for a good portion of the year, I've been setting goals for myself each month. A few months slipped by me (like October + November), but I've found that creating these lists really helps me accomplish more overall. I will try to stick with it going into the new year. Since I'll be working some crazy hours the last half of the month, I'm not setting the bar too high this time. I finished all my Christmas shopping, aside from a few more stocking stuffers for G + my mama, so that's one goal down!
(✔) Start watching more sermons.

(✔) Read as much as I can.

(✘) Find a way to be more active.

(✔) Visit Epcot's Food + Wine Festival.

(✔) Tackle all remaining yard work.

(✔) Have at least one day date or date night.

(✘) Try out a new pumpkin recipe.

➜ ➜ ➜

Plan out my goals for the new year.
Now that I actually have a game plan as far as going back to school, 2017 is going to be my year to grind. Not only do I need to wrap up this GED mess (I only have one test holding me back), but I need to be prepared to balance two jobs, school + a social life before next fall. I'm excited, but nervous. It'll be a new experience.

Start getting up the first time the alarm goes off.
Alright. Please tell me I'm not alone in this struggle. I honestly hit the snooze button like five times each morning, but I absolutely hate waking up late! I would really like to get into a habit of rolling out of bed as soon as the first alarm sounds off. I get much more accomplished during the day whenever I wake up early.

Have a very simple birthday celebration.
I've been embracing low-key birthdays for the past few years. I have to work on my birthday (a 12 hour shift), so I probably won't feel up to doing much after I get off! A cozy dinner at home actually sounds divine.

Purge my belongings before Christmas.
This has become somewhat of a December tradition in previous years. With Christmas being right around the corner (as well as my birthday), I want to go through what I've got before people begin giving me more.

Send out Christmas cards.
I have to confess something to you guys, but promise not to judge me. I have never sent out Christmas cards. I don't know if it's because I don't have many friends who live out of state, or because my family has never been really tight-knit. Whatever the case, I didn't like it. So, I purchased a couple boxes of cards from Target and I'll be sending them out to as many people as I can. 

Visit Disney before the holiday blackout dates.
December 16th is the last day our passes will get us into Disney until the second week of January, I believe. We've been trying our best to go once a month to get our money's worth. Christmastime at Disney is the best.