Friday, January 28, 2011

unspeakable joy.

I interrupt this blog to post a picture that fills my heart with joy that's overflowing.

To some of you, it may just seem like any other picture, but to me, it's so much more. On the one hand, it brings me unspeakable joy to see Haylee embracing her role as an older sister. For those of you who don't know, she wasn't exactly ecstatic to have to share the family's affections when Meredith came along. Slowly but surely, she has begun to come around and I know she will cherish their relationship as the years go by.

But...on the other hand, when I look at this picture, I see my older sister, Michelle (played by Haylee), pushing me (played by a much darker haired Meredith). It almost brings me to tears because in a strange way, I am getting to view myself as a child (hang with me here). When I look at them, I can't help but compare them to my sister and me. I go back to those innocent days as a carefree is such a sweet moment.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

for auld lang syne.

Well well well, it's nearing the end of January and I've finally decided to put up my new year's post. Gosh, what can I say? 2011 has been busy and/or I've been rather slothful in regards to my blog. Nevertheless, better late than never, so here is a brief recap of bidding adieu to 2010 and ringing in 2011.

My New Year's Eve consisted of a "Decades Party," i.e. come dressed as your favorite decade. I went with the old standby of my 20s flapper-esque motif...if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Approximately 70-75% of the guests may or may not have been party crashers who happened to have no clue it was a costume party, so I was definitely in the minority, but I always love an excuse to dress up so I wasn't too concerned. It was a fairly standard shindig, not too much to note, but let's be honest with ourselves, who can actually count one of their new year's eves among one of the most memorable nights of their life? Feel free to comment.

Moving on, my new year's day was actually quite delightful and more than made up for my rather mediocre new year's eve. It started off with a mimosa brunch that lasted well into the afternoon. There was quiche, monkey bread, scones, muffins, yogurt parfaits with fruit and granola...we sipped and nibbled for the better part of five hours. There might also have been a few rousing rounds of Catchphrase and our other favorite party game which involves a combination of charades, taboo and catch phrase. We have yet to give it a name, but we definitely need to do that at some point. Either way, it was a perfect way to spend the first morning/afternoon of 2011.

But the day didn't stop there. We (Crystal and myself) kept the good times rolling and headed to Meagan and Bryan's for a little wine tasting and game night. Always the party animal, Meagan's Grandma from Wisconsin joined in on the fun and proved to be quite the feisty competitor in Scene It...really strange since the Cavanaugh aren't at all competitive - ha ha. We finally called it a night somewhere around 3 AM that morning and I was beyond wiped for the better part of the next day. I just can't hang like I used to...

All in all, it was a top-notch way to start off the new year. I have every faith in the world it is going to be a great year and I look forward to everything God has in store for 2011. Cheers!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

a new creation.

I felt prompted to share the lyrics to a song that has really touched me over the past couple weeks. I encourage you to read the truths below and ask Christ to allow them to penetrate your heart.

You Are More - Tenth Avenue North

There's a girl in the corner
With tear stains on her eyes
From the places she's wandered
And the shame she can't hide

She says, "How did I get here?
I'm not who I once was.
And I'm crippled by the fear
That I've fallen too far to love"

But don't you know who you are,
What's been done for you?
Yeah don't you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

Well she tries to believe it
That she's been given new life
But she can't shake the feeling
That it's not true tonight

She knows all the answers
And she's rehearsed all the lines
And so she'll try to do better
But then she's too weak to try

But don't you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

'Cause this is not about what you've done,
But what's been done for you.
This is not about where you've been,
But where your brokenness brings you to
(editor's note: I REALLY like this bridge - gosh, it's so not about our past indiscretions and stained history. It's about what Christ did for us...)

This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

You've been remade.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

a slice of humble pie.

"Don't imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call 'humble' nowadays: he won't be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who's always telling you that, of course, he's nobody. Probably all you'll think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him, it will be because you feel a bit envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He won't be thinking about himself at all. There I must stop. If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you're not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed."
-C.S. Lewis

"The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. He has accepted God's estimate of his own life: In himself, nothing; In God, everything. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring."
-A.W. Tozer

"We'd like to be humble...but what if no one notices?"
-John Ortberg

"Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less."
-C.S. Lewis

"Nothing disciplines the inordinate desires of the flesh like service, and nothing transforms the desires of the flesh like serving in hiddenness. The flesh whines against service but it screams against hidden service. It strains and pulls for honor and recognition."
-Richard Foster

"Whatever makes us feel superior to other people, whatever tempts us to convey a sense of superiority, that is the gravity of our sinful nature, not grace."
-Phillip Yancey

Actually, forget the slice, just go ahead and give me the whole pie. Pride has been on my mind a LOT over the past 6 months or so and it is actually a topic we're discussing in my community group. The more we discuss, the more I'm painfully aware of my affliction of pride.

The quotes above really hit the nail on the head and serve as a great reminder of what humility looks like. I especially like the specific line: it's not "thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less." Those who are humble don't walk around with their head down, telling others how they are so inferior to everyone else. They simply don't speak of themselves at all.

Have you ever met a truly humble person? They listen to your every word, ask insightful questions, desire to know you, don't interrupt (that's coming from the queen of interruptions - yikes). It is positively refreshing and downright irresistible...probably one of the most attractive qualities.

So what's the prescription to treat a prideful heart? Hmmm...great question. Our book suggests serving others and I concur (in my ever so humble opinion - ha ha) that it's a great start. Why not look to the perfect example, Jesus Christ, as our instructor on living a humble life? Yes, as depraved humans, we will never be "like Christ," but if we are "followers of Christ," then we should follow His example. He came not to be served, but to serve and He humbled Himself (being the supreme and divine Creator of the universe) in a way we cannot even comprehend.

Monday, January 3, 2011

blog shoutout

Okay, so I know I have already sang its praises in the past, but I can't help sharing this particular article I just read on the Art of Manliness.

The gist of the article is summed up in the conclusion (written by Brett and Kate McKay):
"People always want to know-what is manliness? As I’ve said before, my definition is really quite simple: striving for excellence and virtue in all areas of your life and fulfilling your full potential as a man. It mean stretching yourself, testing yourself, and ever seeking to become everything you can be. That’s what embracing the Art of Manliness is all about: improving every area of your life-big and small-learning the know-how to be confident and competent in every situation and the knowledge to live life more fully. Living the Art of Manliness is about wanting to be more than the average guy, and striving to be a superhuman man."

I know I am not a male, nor striving for "manliness," but this is such a solid place for direction in a world so void of male instruction. For the most part, there is little to no guidance for men who are looking to be real men. While not being overtly or outright spiritual, it is pretty clear where the author is seeking his wisdom and ultimate moral structure. I so appreciate his writings and his mission behind the website and encourage you to read the full article.

repeat the sounding joy.

Christmas 2010 was quite the whirlwind as we spent part of the holiday in Austin and then woke up early Christmas morning to spend Christmas day and the day after with Nick, Michelle, Haylee and Meredith. Lucky for me, I was able to sleep away most of the travel time which was much needed after attending midnight mass the night before. Due to the empty roads, we made great time and only missed a couple hours of the day.

Upon arriving, we got right to work on the preparations for Christmas dinner. It was all hands on deck to get the bird in the oven and to get the rest of the dishes rolling so we could open presents as soon as Mere got up from her nap. We also opened a ridiculously large bottle of prosecco to aid in our most arduous labor.

Once the turkey had been properly rubbed and put safely in the oven to bake up golden and delicious, we snacked a little bit and sang some Christmas carols. Haylee even brought out her keyboard to accompany us. It was so much fun to sing my favorite Christmas carols not once, but several times throughout the Christmas season. I felt like I was living a scene out of a movie...such a wonderful way to reflect on the birth of Christ amidst all of the presents and trappings that come with Christmas celebrations.

After the carols, it was on to the main event (for Haylee at least) which was opening the mountain of presents under the tree. Christmas was all about Haylee and Meredith this year, and it couldn't have been more fun. Haylee's exclamation upon opening every present: "OH.MY.GOODNESS!!!!" It was hilarious.

All that excitement made for a tired and weary crowd. While the majority of the group rested in front of a Christmas movie, I got busy in the kitchen whipping up the Christmas feast. There was much to prepare. On the menu was an herb-roasted turkey, sweet potatoes, green beans with goat cheese and caramelized onions, my savory bread stuffing and homemade cranberry sauce.

Once the table was set, the turkey was carved and the wine was poured, we toasted a Merry Christmas to all and dug right in.

Per usual, the night commenced with a final round of photo opps beneath the tree.

We finished the night watching "It's a Wonderful Life" and then tucked ourselves in after a long day.

The next morning, we woke up to do our traditional Christmas brunch (a day late), but it was still just as tasty as ever. Monkey bread, quiche, fruit salad, bacon and mimosas - it never gets old! We stuffed ourselves with the delicious goodness and stretched out our stomachs by watching Fred Claus and playing a couple games of Candy Land.

It was a most joyful time of celebrating Christ's birth, the day that the "word became flesh and made His dwelling among us." May I live as though that changes everything.