Tuesday, November 25, 2008

a wintry weekend with friends

Every October since I was a freshman in college, a big group of our friends pile into a few cars packed high with sleeping bags, hot chocolate and the makings for grilled cheese sandwiches and head to the mountains in Virginia, where one friend's grandparents have a house. We stop at Meredith's parents' house on the way for a bbq dinner and then head up north, getting in when it's late and usually pretty cold. We spend the weekend playing games by the fire, hiking, catching up and - when we were still at UNC - enjoying Fall Break and not thinking about schoolwork. This year, we continued the tradition for a fifth year, but we couldn't get our schedules aligned any earlier than this past weekend. And so, with a our winter weekend getaway, came snow! It had melted away from the roads, but was still on the ground and trees and it was absolutely beautiful. It was bitterly cold, so we spent most of the time inside. I'm convinced that aside from snowball fights and snow angels, snow quiets the earth so we can rest. And while the topic of conversations has shifted from quirky professors and exams to health insurance and company Christmas parties, it was amazing how we were able to pick up right where we left off.

So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for friends.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

in the air there's a feeling of Christmas...

Andrew and I enjoyed another lovely weekend in Concord. We took the trip this time for the Southern Christmas Show in Charlotte. I have been looking forward to this all year! It was absolutely beautiful and even though it was 70 degrees outside, I felt Christmasy the second we walked in. The picture above is one of the "Christmas Around the World" displays. I don't remember what area or era this display represents, but I liked it because it reminded me of the Nutcracker. I especially like the little girl reading on the stairs. I think she's cute.

We had such a wonderful time. There was lots to see - arts and crafts, pottery, jewelry, food, Christmas decorations, etc, etc. Maybe my favorite part of the day was meeting Bill. Andrew and I were taking a rest on a bench, waiting for his family to meet us for lunch. Bill, who was probably in his 70s, dressed in a suit and Christmas tie, sat down beside us and preceded to take some snacks out of his neatly packed lunchbox. I started a conversation with him because he seemed nice. He worked at the Christmas Show, manning one of the many exits to make sure sneaky people didn't creep in without paying. As he was munching on a cherry turnover and sipping on some lemonade, he began to tell me about his job at the Christmas Show. The whole time, I noticed one of the other door watchers (a nice lady) kept looking his way. And smiling. And I thought, "Way to go, Bill! You've caught the eye of the pretty door watcher!" As we talked, he told us that he worked the Christmas Show every year with his brother, sister-in-law and his wife. Then he smiled and pointed to the door watcher and said, "That's my wife."

You guys...I melted. I can only hope that in 50 years, Andrew and I eye each other like my friend Bill and his sweet wife.

So that was our Christmas Show adventure. We got some Christmas shopping done, but mostly we just enjoyed Christmas things with family. And now, it is officially Christmas at the Castrodale home. We've been listening to the music since Sunday. Soon it will be Christmas Day...

Friday, November 14, 2008

for better or worse

Well, folks, it's been one week since Andrew got laid off. It was a huge shock and obviously not the most ideal of circumstances, but we really believe that it is absolutely an answer to a prayer. Andrew has been miserable with his job for a while. Lately it's gotten even worse, pushing us to consider the option of quitting. Before we could even make the decision, he was let go. I think that was God's way of telling us that he heard our prayer and would make the difficult decision for us. And because we know that God orchestrated this series of events, we know that he'll continue to work it out. I think that if Andrew had quit, and then months later found himself still without work, we would have doubted the decision. Now we know that it was out of our hands and in someone else's. What peace there is in that!

Everyone that knows has been so supportive, which is very encouraging. My aunt said that this will be one of those times that we look back on in 20 years and say, "Remember when we were newlyweds and you got laid off? Wasn't it awesome how everything was still provided for?" Honestly, we've been very blessed for the last eight months and having to exercise our faith has been refreshing. Sometimes we get comfortable in the good and forget to be thankful and I had forgotten the peace that comes with trusting when things are foggy. Does that make sense? Rambling, I know.

So things are little more conservative around the Castrodale household, but there's nothing wrong with that. Andrew spends his time looking for work (full time and part time, whichever comes first) and helping out around the house - which I LOVE. He's such a sweet man. I did have to talk him out of growing a "lay off beard." Not something I want to see every evening, you know?

Just keep us in your prayers, if you don't mind. Other than that bit of news, things are pretty normal. Nothing fancy or exciting going on. We'll keep you updated!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

take a moment to enjoy the brilliance of autumn colors

That's what my Dove candy wrapper said the other day. I think that this is the prettiest fall we've had in a while. But Andrew called this morning while on his way to work to say that he thinks the leaves are at their peak and I'm a little sad. I have this urge to leave work and go for a scenic drive. Only I work in downtown Durham so I'm not sure where I would go. But there's this tree outside my office window that's a swirl of amber and rust colors. And suddenly, the Nanny Dee comes out in me and I want to press a leaf or two in a big book to save for later. I get a lot of joy out of the pretty colors God chose to paint this earth with and I pray I can enjoy it for just a few more weeks. At least until I can be distracted by Christmas :)

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