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2015: A Year in Review

2015: A Year in Review

Happy New Year's Eve, y'all! 2015 was a whirlwind for us - so many big changes! It's pretty amazing to think back to this time last year and see how far we've come and how much has happened. Here's a look back on one of our biggest years yet:

We visited NYC twice - once with SD's parents to see "Lion King" on Broadway, and then again a few weeks later for the Chamber Music America conference. This was the first time I ever stayed overnight in the City and I actually felt like I knew my way around the Times Square area by the time we left!

In February, we went cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing for the first time at a nearby park (rentals were only $3/person!). I started my dissertation research (eight weeks long) and we had the opportunity to see the St. Olaf Choir in concert - amazing!

These Wonderful Things

These Wonderful Things

Newspaper for gift-wrapping.
Charlie Brown stamps.
Extra rehearsals.
(Endless) to-do lists.
Christmas concerts.
Amazon packages.
Bulletin drafts.
Doxology Press orders.
Shipping deadlines.
Various versions of Jingle Bells in lessons every week.

These are the things our December days are made of (especially if you're a musician!). As much as we long for a slower pace at this time of the year, the truth is this is one of the busiest seasons of all.

Thankful

Thankful

Thanksgiving.

It's that time of the year when people seem to become a bit more intentional about counting their blessings and naming things they're thankful for. A time when people gather together from near and far to share a special meal around the table. A time when people google things like "how to cook a turkey" and "watch macy's parade online" (No? Am I the only one?).

Maybe it's the time of year, or maybe it's a response to the chaos of life the past few months, but I find myself needing to take a step back, needing to create space for thankfulness. Eugene Peterson said it best:

"We stop, whether by choice or through circumstance, so that we can be alert and attentive and receptive to what God is doing in and for us, in and for others, on the way. We wait for our souls to catch up with our bodies." -Eugene Peterson, The Jesus Way

How to Practice Efficiently in 30 Minutes Or Less

How to Practice Efficiently in 30 Minutes Or Less

We're a few weeks into the school year now, and I am starting to settle into my new routine.

This year, I'm accompanying four school choirs and a church choir, playing a service every Sunday, and teaching four afternoons a week. I love the variety this offers and I love being back on the bench (organ and piano!), but it requires something we never seem to have enough time for as professionals - practicing. As a student, I had anywhere from 2-6 hours a day to practice, and though certainly intense, I now recognize that time was a luxury. As professionals, we gig, we teach, we play, we write, we email, we manage, we coordinate, we network. When is there time to practice?

My new schedule for the Fall has pockets of time and I'm learning to be extra productive and efficient with my practicing.

Here are a few things I'm learning:

Navigating the Home-Buying Process as a Freelancer: An Inside Look

Navigating the Home-Buying Process as a Freelancer: An Inside Look

Buying a home is a huge step in life, and though they make it look so simple on TV, it is no easy feat. Especially if you're a freelancer. Since SD and I are both freelancers, this meant our home-buying process was a little more complicated and drawn out than "normal." For those of you who are thinking about and planning for buying a home at some point, here is an inside look at our process, with a few helpful tips thrown in for good measure!

Gather Financial Documents

The first step in our mortgage application process was to pull together several documents:

- Tax returns (last two years)
- W-2s (last year)
- Pay stubs (current year)
- All bank statements
- checking, savings (last two months)
- Investment accounts
- Roth, IRAs (last quarter)

10 Things You Probably Don't Know About Me

10 Things You Probably Don't Know About Me

You know those ice-breaker games when someone asks you to share something unique about yourself? Something most people don't know? I can never come up with something. Last time I was asked this question, I said, "I eat my candy by color - and I always save the green ones for last." (Come on, I know I'm not the only one!) For today's post, I challenged myself to come up with a few other fun facts, and I thought it might be fun to share them with you! Here are 10 things you probably don't know about me (even if we've been friends for a while!). Enjoy!

When Jesus Comes As a Stranger in the Snow

When Jesus Comes As a Stranger in the Snow

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in." - Matthew 25:35

Last night, SD and I decided to walk down to our local coffee shop after dinner to get some work done (and take advantage of the "warmer" 20-something degree weather - ha).

We trudged through the snow drifts, reminiscing about the day. We were almost to the coffee shop when we saw a woman crouched down in the snow up ahead. "Did she fall?" SD asked. I made out her shadow against the snow in the light of the street lamps and we watched her try to stand, falter, and fall.

Top 10 Posts of 2014

Top 10 Posts of 2014

Happy New Year, y'all! I love this time of the year - looking back, reflecting, dreaming about what the New Year will hold, and making plans to make it happen.

I always love looking back and seeing what your favorite posts were, so this year, I decided to put together a little recap post. Without further ado, here are the top 10 posts of 2014:

The Beauty of Christmas

The Beauty of Christmas

This year, December comes with a bit of nostalgia for me.

Last year, the weekend after Thanksgiving was the last time I saw my Grammy. In February, the day before she passed away, she told me she had reluctantly taken down the last of her feather trees. In her words, "Christmas was beautiful, and it will be beautiful again."

Last weekend, we picked out our little tree and strung it with white lights. As we stood back to admire its warm, cozy glow in our dimly-lit living room, I leaned my head against SD's chest and whispered, "Christmas is beautiful again."