Monday, December 31, 2012

2012


2012 was quite a rollercoaster.

It was a year of change, a year of loss, a year of self-discovery, a year of happiness... all at once.  More than anything, and despite the challenges and sometimes sadness, it was a year of growth-- professionally, spiritually, and personally.

Looking back on my resolutions from last year, one stands out to me- do something BIG that scares me.  I definitely did several of those things. And you know what? I am more sure of who I am and what I want out of this crazy ride we call life than ever before.

So bring it on, 2013!  I'm ready for new beginnings, new opportunities, and new lessons.  You can read about my resolutions/goals here.  I have a feeling it's gonna be a good year. : )

And, because it's tradition and because I absolutely love pictures, here's a photo for each month of 2012:

JANUARY
Ritual for my college sorority... I'm old enough to have a great-great grandlittle now!
I love seeing the legacy I've left behind.

FEBRUARY

Dallas Color Run- a total blast! Now if only I can actually learn how to run...
MARCH
Celebrating Grandpa's 91st birthday... the last one we had with him.

APRIL
Easter with the family

MAY
Painting With a Twist with my women's group and friends

JUNE
Galveston for Kim's bachelorette weekend!

JULY
My Little, Ashley, and I visit Chicago!

AUGUST
Marco Island, Florida, for family vacation!

SEPTEMBER
My first game in the new stadium!

OCTOBER
TCU Homecoming!

NOVEMBER
I'm cheating- two photos! There were a lot of reunions, okay?!
Night out with my college roomies!
High school loves!


DECEMBER
25th birthday dinner!



Newlywed Moments






Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Social

Sunday Social

1. Favorite New Year's Eve you'd had before: 
Ringing in 2010 at the Fiesta Bowl block party in the streets of downtown Phoenix! Every other year I usually go to a party at someone's house, so that year was totally different and a blast!


2. Are you doing anything for NYE this year, and if so, what? 
My roomie and I are having a party at our place- hopefully many of our good friends will be able to come!

3. Name a book we should all read come January. 
Good question. One of my resolutions (see below) is to read more like I used to.  The best book I read in 2012 was The Help. I'm open to recommendations!

4. What are your New Year's resolutions?
I realized that most of my resolutions from last year were too vague, so these are pretty specific goals that I can actually "measure."  Let's see how I do!
  • Read 12 books this year. I have a whole stack waiting in my room, plus a new Kindle from my sweet friend Caroline! My younger bookworm self would be appalled that my goal is to only read 12 books, because I read 100 books one summer in middle school... but I also had a limited social life back then! ; )
  • Work out 4 times per week.  I feel like that's realistic for me at this point. If it goes well, after a couple of months I'll bump it up to 5.  I'm going to pursue workout classes (i.e. yoga) mixed in with some time on the Treadmill.  I've learned I'm much more likely to go to a class and do something interactive than go for a run on my own!
  • Only go to Starbucks twice per work week.  Gotta make all those Starbucks gift cards I got for Christmas last awhile!
  • Only drink 3 Cokes per week.  This will be a hard one, but I want to cut back on caffeine and sugar, so this will be a good start.  I know better than to go cold turkey though!
  • Try something new-- I'm thinking this will be joining a new organization, taking a dance class, etc.
  • Spend less time on my iPhone... I won't banish social media because I love it too much, but my goal is to cut back on time I spend scrolling through newsfeeds before sleeping. More time for reading!
  • Continue to grow in my faith, spending more time reading the Bible or books for women's group, and just in prayerful thought.  Sometimes I get so caught up in the day that I forget the importance of just spending time thinking by myself and talking to God. 
  • Plan a fun trip.  Traveling makes me happy, and if there's one thing I want to be in 2013, it's happy! : )
What are your resolutions for 2013? Are there any I should add to my list?

Friday, December 28, 2012

High Five for Friday

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1) After the excitement of Christmas is over, the best part for me is wearing all of the fun new clothes/accessories!
2) Being home with the family and our small pony puppy was wonderful. Guess who wins tug-of-war?
3) My long-lost LA friend, Caroline, sent me a Kindle! How awesome is she?!
4) Fun night out in Dallas with Liz... so sad she's going back to Thailand soon!
5) This video circa 1996.  My sister, Miss Sassy, didn't waste any time sugar coating her talk with Santa!

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Vacation Daydreaming


^This is where I wish I was.

A girl I know takes a beach vacation with her family the week between Christmas and New Year's Day every year. I think it's a great idea.  Spend Christmas Day at home, banish the post-Christmas blues by hitting the beach, and then be back in time to ring in the New Year with friends? Brilliant! 

I told my parents we need to jump on this bandwagon... mom was all for it, but dad still needs a little convincing.  Maybe next year.

All that to say, I am craving a trip.  Every few months, if I haven't left Dallas, I catch the travel bug and want to plan a trip somewhere, even if it's just a weekend away somewhere.  This summer I was lucky enough to go to Chicago and Marco Island, Florida, but the last time I left DFW was for my grandpa's funeral at the beginning of September.  

My roomie and I have talked about going to Boston in summer 2013, which would be awesome, and of course I am overdue for a trip to Los Angeles to visit my high school and college buddy, Caroline, but I am itching to go somewhere else, too.  I would also love to go on another trip with my Little, Ashley, but we haven't discussed any destinations yet.

Any suggestions? I'd love to hear them!  I'll be daydreaming about my next trip!  : )

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012

This Christmas couldn't have been more perfect.  You can't go wrong with the company of a loving family or a lovely Christmas Eve church service.

Of course, tons of good food, presents galore, and even SNOW in Texas on Christmas Day make it even better!
Christmas Eve with my wonderful family
Christmas Eve family traditions- Chicken Foot and poinsettias. Anyone else play this game?

Feeling festive on Christmas Day


White Christmas in Texas!


Most dogs hide when it rains/snows... not mine.  I think we've left him outside too long, he's a little crazy!


Boggle with the cousins.  I'm glad our family shares a love for word games.

I hope all of you had the happiest of Christmases and keep the feeling of hope, joy, and love into the new year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I'll Be Home for Christmas

Me, sister, and our family reindeer, Jager 
One thing I've come to realize in life is that it doesn't necessarily matter where you are, it matters who you are with.  I believe that you can learn to be happy in a lot of places, but the people in your life are who make all the difference. 

This has become even more evident to me this Christmas season.

I truly cannot imagine being alone for the holidays, and just thinking about those who are breaks my heart.  

As I've mentioned many times before, this is my first year living on my own in an apartment that I'm paying for, rather than my parents. I'm only 20 minutes away from home, but I have been amazed at how different it is to not be there every day during this holiday season.    

I sure am thankful to have a roommate to decorate the apartment and listen to Christmas music with, because it just wouldn't be fun to do that all by myself.  For me, a huge part of the joy and hope of the season is missing if you don't have your loved ones to share it with.     

I'll be heading over to my parents' house later this evening to begin the festivities- looking at Christmas lights, drinking hot chocolate, eating sweets, watching the Christmas classics, going to Christmas Eve church, playing board games, opening just a couple of Christmas Eve presents, then opening all the rest on Christmas morning before we get together with my extended family for food and family togetherness.  

It wouldn't be Christmas without all of those things, but most importantly, without my family.  

This is an interesting transition time in my life- I'm an adult, out of college and independent, but not yet married with children of my own.  I am enjoying this phase, but so look forward to having a husband and little ones of my own someday to expand my family and begin Christmas traditions of our own.

I'm so blessed to be able to say that I'll be home for Christmas.

Wishing each of you the best time with your loved ones, celebrating your own unique traditions, and finding peace, hope, and joy as we remember the birth of our Savior!  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thankful Thursday



Today I Am Thankful:

--To have the next 12 days off of work! Perks of being employed by a university
--For the opportunity to volunteer with sweet little children. Little kids= my happiness!
--That calories don't count this month, at least in my opinion.  Hello, sweets!
--That it is almost Christmas, and despite sad things happening around the world, this is a season of hope and joy.  Nothing can take that away!


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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Why I Have Joy This Morning


For the very first time, I'm having a guest writer post on Just Julie.  And what better person than my beautiful roommate, Jenna, with her reflections from this morning after yesterday's horrific tragedy. 

How wonderful that, despite evil and darkness on this Earth, we can look to our Heavenly Father and find peace, joy, and hope through His goodness and salvation!   

Why I Have Joy This Morning
"Yesterday was supposed to be a normal day—spending a little time in the office, getting my bangs trimmed, shopping with my mom, meeting with a student, going to a Christmas party—and all of those things did happen. Yet in the midst of all of my activities, I was struck with the same news that the rest of the country was facing: almost 30 people were killed by a young man in an elementary school.



I got the phone call shortly after this horrific event hit the news, and was asked what we do as a church in times like this. How does the Church respond to such tragedy? How do we gather? How to we react as faithful people? What are we going to do?



It’s easy to get news like we all did yesterday, to live in shock for a short while, and then to move on with the rest of our day like it was just another day.



For some people, it was, and that's ok.



But not for me.



One of my friends tweeted yesterday something like “the world is such a broken place”. I stared at her tweet for a good two minutes, speechless. That’s not something that I don’t know. People are hurting, starving, aching, and crying out for redemption, reconciliation, and healing. We pass them on the side of the road. They sit in the cubicle beside us in the office. We stand behind them in line at lunch. Our children are on their soccer teams. We learn with them in school. We make fun of them, and tease them, yet are sometimes wonderfully bent to love them.



I feel that same brokenness, myself, on a lot of days during the week. My heart gets broken, my feelings get hurt. My self-esteem is tested and my nerves are shaken. Yesterday, I joined with millions of people in our country in grief and sorrow for the terrible loss of life that we experienced as a nation.



This morning, I woke from a sound sleep with hope and peace, and spent a lot of time reflecting on why I have such certainty in the goodness and graciousness and love of my God.



Perhaps it is because it is the Advent Season I can rely so heavily on my God for such peace. I woke this morning in the promise that Christ not only had come to earth for me in the past, or that he is coming in the future, but that Christ lives and breathes in the world today. I join with others around the country (and the world) in grief and sorrow, but I also join with others around the country in anxious awaiting and preparation of my heart for the coming of Christ at Christmas.



Perhaps I can rely so heavily on my God for such peace because I am not alone in my brokenness. Yes, my friend, the world is a very broken place. But I find joy in that Christ took on that very same brokenness—rejection by those he loved, torture, name-calling, starvation, human failure—so that evil, suffering, and death will never have the last word. Where, O death is your victory? Where is your sting?



When I was in kindergarten, I was completely unaware of the evils of this world. The kindergarteners that I work with at the church now are also that innocent. Their eyes have seen hurting and pain, but they cannot understand (like me!) the horrible things that happen on our earth, in our country.



Yesterday, I thought of those children in Newtown and I wept. I wept for their mothers and fathers, their friends and classmates, their brothers and sisters, and the entire community. And then I wept for the children that I love and care so deeply for in my own life. I had to convince myself not to go to every school in Frisco to tell my students from my youth group never to give up their hope.



Because, though we are all broken, there is always hope in Christ! He, who was born into a poor family, raised by parents who were just doing the best they could (what parent doesn’t understand that feeling?), took on our pain and suffering. He even took on death for all humanity so that death does not have the last word.



Because during this season we are constantly reminded that Christ came to us so meekly as tiny child. We are perhaps more devastated by the loss yesterday in Newtown of such innocent, sweet children because we are living so close to that memory. We are constantly reminded of that babe that came to save us from ourselves, a tiny child whose parents wondered what he would be like as he grew up. Would he, too, be a carpenter like his father? I wonder if Mary ever imagined the brokenness Jesus might have endured; brokenness she never could have protected him from.



But because of this brokenness that Christ willingly took on for me, I have hope and peace this morning. Evil does not have the last word. Death is not the end!



I think death might have been the end if Christ only died for us; thank God that the story doesn’t end there! No, Christ also rose for us. Right up out of the ground, he who was once dead was suddenly alive, in the flesh! This resurrection was not just miraculous because it seems physically impossible; it is miraculous because it points us to the new life that we are all promised in Christ. 



I don’t know what those sweet children are experiencing right now after their untimely deaths yesterday. I’m not sure what heaven is like, and I’m less sure that Jesus looks like those pictures that are floating around on Facebook and Instagram right now. But what I do know is that those children, and we as faithful people, have been promised new life. Rebirth. End of bodily pain. We’ve been promised a time when there are no more tears or sorrow, a time and place when we will all be whole again.



And that’s why I’ve such joy this morning.



Our God is still a good, sovereign God. Our God is still a loving and gracious God. I believe that our God wept with us yesterday, experiencing brokenness with us once more, and I believe that our God was with us then, is with us now, and will continue to be with us forever.



This morning, I thank God for my life and the lives of those I hold so dear. I thank God for the cross, and the resurrection. And I thank God that in all things, I never have to go through the pains of this world alone."





Jenna is a seminary student and youth minister.  
She doesn't have her own blog (yet) but you 
can contact her at jenna.nicole.morrison@gmail.com. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

In This World You Will Have Trouble


This week, so close to Christmas, I've heard so much sad news. 

A sorority sister's grandfather died, after her family has already faced great lost the past year.

A friend's mother passed away after her year-long battle with brain cancer.

Someone else I know lost their beautiful, young cousin in a tragic car accident.

Then, today, I learned of the shooting at an elementary school, with dozens of people killed, including innocent little children.  Words cannot even describe such a tragedy. 

With all of this heartache and despair in the midst of a season that's supposed to be filled with love and hope, you just want to ask "why?" 

I can't answer why terrible things happen to good and innocent people.  It doesn't make sense. Some people say "Everything happens for a reason."  I have a hard time saying that, because I believe in a God of love, compassion, and mercy, and it's hard to believe that a God of Love would choose to let awful things happen.   

What I do know, though, is that God has a hand in turning tragedy into good for those that love Him, and that He is here to comfort those that suffer.  It is often in our times of greatest sorrow that we realize how fragile and precious life is, and that we are here to comfort and support one another.

Verses I have looked to today:
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." -Psalm 46:1

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -- John 16:33

Hug someone today and tell your family and friends that you love them.

  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thankful Thursday


Today, I am thankful:
-- for colder weather that makes it finally feel like December.
-- that two of my dear friends got engaged this week. Love is in the air, and I'm excited to celebrate with them!
-- to have a roommate who brings me soup and Sprite in bed while I'm sick.  Seriously, best soup ever.
-- to have had the opportunity to catch up on some reading while in bed today. Sometimes we just have to slow down and recover.
-- that, God willing, I will be back to good health in a day or two.  It's easy to take our bodies for granted, but without your health, you don't have anything.  I am fortunate to only have a little cold or virus!





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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Black + A Color Pop

I'm a big fan of black when it comes to clothing, especially an all (or mostly) black outfit. It just looks so sophisticated, classic, and sometimes a little mysterious, doesn't it?

I was feeling a black color vibe while getting ready last weekend. Maybe from my black manicure?

Shirt: Nordstrom // Jeans: Zara // Shoes: Antonio Melani // Clutch: J. Crew //
Necklace: Ann Taylor // Nails: "Lincoln Park After Dark," OPI 
This outfit will be perfect for a night out with the girls, but I just couldn't wait to carry my new clutch that my roomie gave me for my birthday! She saw me admiring it while we were shopping together, then went back and bought it. Such a great friend!


You already know from this post that I love stripes and my new necklace that goes with just about anything- a very worthy purchase! What drew me to this top was the length in the back- adds a really interesting twist. And, I think a pair of classic black pumps are essential for everyone woman's closet.

Do you like to wear black? What are your go-to accessories to give it some color/avoid looking too "goth"?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Quarter of a Century

Here's what 25 looks like:


Lucky me, having my birthday on a Friday this year!  All day, and really all weekend, I was reminded just how blessed I am.

I received numerous birthday wishes at work, and my sweet team made a card and gave me a gift card... yay!

Post-work, I gave myself a little birthday pampering with a mani/pedi.  Relaxation at its finest!

Then I met up with many of my best girlfriends for sushi... yum yum!  Love having all of these ladies in my life.



My incredibly talented friend Heather over at Whisk Until Sweet made my adorable {and delicious} cake!


Saturday my wonderful parents gave me presents and took me to Salt Grass Steakhouse for dinner.  Delicious, and it was nice to spend the evening with them.  They're pretty great : )

The birthday weekend concluded with brunch at Blue Mesa with my friend Morgan... who got engaged last night, eeek!!

She gave me chocolate wine in a shoe wine holder... she sure knows the way to my heart!



Here's to the next 25 years!

Friday, December 7, 2012

High Five for Friday

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Today is my 25th birthday! Can't believe I'm celebrating a quarter of a century on this earth.  I'm sure thankful for a blessed life and to be surrounded by so many amazing people.

I'll of course post all about my birthday weekend, but here's what made me happy this past week:
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1. Little Christmas tree in my room at my parents' house.  Thanks, Mom!
2. First birthday present from Jenna, my roomie.  I love it!!
3. Decorated the apartment with Jenna. Finally in the Christmas spirit!
4. Spent a whole day with Liz, my friend who's been in Thailand for over a year. It was like no time had passed since we were together!
5. My loyal parents representing both of their daughters' schools for the TCU/OU game... they sure looked like confused fans! 
 

 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Best Kind of Closet...

.... is a shared closet!

My new favorite activity is playing dress up with my roomie, Jenna.  She has great style and isn't afraid to mix things up.  Whenever I'm in a wardrobe rut or need help picking out accessories, I know I can count on her to see my closet in a whole new light!

I bought this dress at the Gap last year for like $4 on clearance.  Don't you just love deals like that?

I wore it by itself with a thick brown belt in the summer, but I wanted to try it for winter-- even though it's felt like spring here in Dallas! 

I enlisted Jenna's help, and she came up with this:
Dress: The Gap // Cardigan: Ann Taylor // Shoes: Audrey Brooke, DSW // Earrings: Kohl's 
The dress itself is a neutral and the cardigan is a soft mint, so adding her turquoise/teal suede pumps created the perfect color pop. The belt coordinated nicely with the buttons on the cardigan, and I borrowed her dangly earrings to pull out that same color, pulling my hair back in a mini-poof to show them off.

I can't wait to wear what she helped me put together for an event tomorrow night!