December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas, Mississippi!

My favorite* ornament.

The Magnolia State

*It's really, really, really hard to pick a favorite.

I hope you have a Merry Christmas and take time to celebrate the coming of Jesus,  eat your favorite foods and be with the people you love. 

December 23, 2011

1001.7 miles to Mississippi

Have you ever driven 1000 miles in a day?  Come join us...

Departure. Yep, that's AM.

First stop...still dark...COFFEE. 

My turn to drive. 10 and 2...always concerned with safety. 

Good morning, Virginia!

Second stop: more coffee and chikin. 

Lots of good reads!

Are we there yet?

A special shout out to Kensy, Archer, Holly and Buck for helping to entertain me with Words with Friends.

Kern packed sandwiches for us--minimal stopping!

And the rain began...

Finally home!

Riding cross country in a Chevy...can't get much more American than that!

We were greeted with soup and this lovely sight upon arrival.

Home sweet Home!

December 21, 2011

Singing through the Season

I'm not a Christmas purist.  I'll be the first to admit that I have no problem rotating my Christmas playlist beginning November 1st...and I've even been known to sneak in a carol mid-July (it helps me cool off, ok?)

I've had a lot of time to think about Christmas lyrics and this post has been brewing in my mind for weeks.  Our pastor, Glenn, made an observation about Christmas music at church recently that I immediately connected to.  He said, "The difference between Christmas music and Christmas carols are that Christmas (or holiday) music creates a fake world in order to try and make you feel happy, whereas Christmas carols BRING JOY in their nature because they are announcing the coming of JESUS--even though it is in an imperfect world."

Yes, I thought.  That's the difference.  As much as I love to imagine myself walking in a winter wonderland or sitting in front of the perfect fire or thinking about St. Nick clicking on my roof these images only go so far in providing happiness.  (Especially once I remember I don't have a fireplace...)

However, consider the lyrics of these carols and what it really means for every day and each season of the year:

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife
And hear the angels sing.
And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

Once in Royal David's City
For He is our childhood’s pattern;
Day by day, like us He grew;
He was little, weak and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us He knew;
And He feeleth for our sadness,And He shareth in our gladness.

And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love,
For that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in Heav’n above,
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone.
Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him; but in Heaven,
Set at God’s right hand on high;
Where like stars His children crowned
All in white shall wait around.

O Holy Night

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining. 
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,  
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. 

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!

Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth, 
Born to give them second birth.

I'm not bashing fun holidays songs--I still love the images and scenarios that these songs conjure up.  However, when the snow doesn't fall and the turkey gets burned, it's comforting to remember the real reason that I celebrate the season: Jesus coming, being born to save me.

And that gives me a warmer and more comforted feeling than any image of Santa on a roof ever can.

December 20, 2011

Congratulations, Archer and Henry!

Archer and Henry got engaged on Monday night!

I could not be more thrilled for this great couple!  It is fun having DC friends get engaged and married--and very special when you have been friends with one or both for years.

Archer and I met in January of 2005 when she transferred to Ole Miss.  We lived next door to each other in the freshman dorm--enough said!  Fast forward to college graduation and she and I moved to DC within months of one another.

I considered her a very close friend in college, but our friendship has grown my leaps and bounds in DC.  Honestly, there are times I don't know what I would have done without her here!  Since we live in different areas of town, we make it a point to have "date nights" and lunch together whenever we can.  In the warmer months, we have been known to go on 2 hour walks and in the winter we meet up for lunch or dinner and catch up face to face.  There is something about continuing a friendship with a person from college throughout the first years of living in a new city and having a first job.  

Archer identifies with me, encourages me and gives me advice.  She is solid and trustworthy.  She is the kind of friend that makes me want to be a better friend.

It has been great getting to know Henry the last few years too.  Whenever we are all spending time together, he always makes me laugh and has hilarious observations that I sometimes tend to miss.  I'm so excited for the next chapter to begin for these two.  Congratulations!

December 19, 2011

White House Christmas 2011

The theme at the White House this year is: "Shine, give and share."

"Time and again, our Nation's strength is revealed when we join together in common purpose.  This holiday season, we recognize that each of us holds the power to make a difference in our world through service to one another, whether we serve in uniform to protect all that we hold dear, or share our gifts in our classrooms and neighborhoods.  Each act of service touches others in ways we may never see, while guiding us toward and ever-brightening future."

-President and Mrs. Obama

The East Visitor Entrance and Landing pays tribute to our military. 

Kern and I wrote notes to our service men and women and "mailed" them.

Beautiful handmade snowflakes adorned the wreaths and garlands along the hallway.

I loved this colorful tree!

Kern posed with a likening of Bo, the First Families Portuguese water dog

There were "mini-Bo's" all throughout the house!

The East Room

Our first President behind me

A fireplace in the East Room

A view from the window of the Green Room

Admiring Presidential China in the Green Room.  Can you see me?

The Blue Room: the official White House Christmas Tree is behind us.  This year, the tree is a balsam fir from Neshkoro, Wisconsin.  The ornaments this year are Christmas cards made by military children--adorable!  Medals, badges and patches from all the military branches were also displayed.

To connect with our military families and offer them encouragement, please visit: 

The Red Room

The State Dining Room

Lincoln, Emily and Kern

I wonder if Sasha and Malia get to eat the gingerbread house?
Do you see Bo??

Mini Bo's were stationed in each room.  Here is the East Room's rendition of the lovable pup.

The whole House smelled divinely of the most lovely greenery--a sign that Christmas is in the air!

December 16, 2011

Merry Christmas from my desk!

I don't know how old I was when I got this mini tree, but I don't remember a Christmas without it.

When I was little, I put up the tree in my bedroom.  I felt so cool and special to have my OWN tree in MY room.  Josh had one too!  The ornaments are wooden--they range from angels to animals to little people skiing to drums to birds.  All very friendly looking.

I needed some cheer at the place where I spend 40 + hours a week, and my mini tree was the perfect addition to my desk.

Did you decorate your workplace this year?

December 15, 2011

Christmas in DC

There are so many activities to do in DC around Christmas time, but no matter how many years I live here, I still love walking around the National Christmas tree and seeing all of the state trees that surround the White House.

This past weekend, Kern and I met Henry, Archer, John and Lee at the Willard, a famous hotel/bar across the street from the White House before we ventured out into the cold to see the Christmas decor.

Archer and me

Kern in deep discussion

My LeeBee


Lee and John in front of the Willard's Christmas tree

Kern and me

Archer and Henry

In front of the Mississippi tree

Santa lives here?!

Can you recognize the building behind me?

The National Christmas tree

Lee and John take every opportunity to dance

Henry and Archer in front of the DC tree

We had a great time together.  I hope to make this evening into a new tradition!
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