Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas in New Jersey

Andy's dad

the Salsky men

Merinda and me with our father in law

the Salsky boys with their beautiful wives :)

visiting the Plummers

dear friends Matt and Cassie
Reconnecting with (Andy's) sweet childhood friends
Spending time with Andy's brother and sister-in-law
Catching up with Andy's dad over coffee and muffins
Sitting around the fireplace eating Christmas cookies
Eating pizza by candlelight when the power went out
Beautiful farmlands, antique shops, inns, windy roads
Exchanging gifts around the tree
Quality time with the Schildge-Magee-Salsky crew

Christmas in Marblehead

pretty downtown Marblehead

the flower lady where we got our wedding flowers

cover of Better Homes and Gardens, perhaps?

Old North Church  (where we got married)

me and Vic at the Christmas Eve service

Dad, Mom, Nick, and Andy


Playing Bananagrams at the round table
Opening presents around the tree
Singing old tv theme songs with Vic while washing dishes
Lounging around the house with family
Going on walk/runs with Mom
Showering at 4 and changing from pj's to sweats back to pj's

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas in Tempe

Here is our pretty little tree, all dressed up for Christmas!  (We actually put the tree and house decorations up the saturday after Thanksgiving, but I obviously haven't gotten around to blogging since then.)  We have been busy finishing up the first 6 months of our church, planning and hosting Christmas parties, Christmas shopping, and getting ready to go home for Christmas...  I love this season, but it sure is full!  We leave tomorrow night for 10 days at home in Boston and New Jersey.  We can't wait to spend time with family and friends.

Speaking of friends, my good friend Amy was in town for the past few days this past week.  It was SO good to spend time with her.  She is one of my closest friends, and I miss her out here!

me and Amy at church this past Sunday

with Joy and Emmy
 Speaking of church... last Sunday was our Christmas service.  As the lights dimmed and the last candle was lit, I was overwhelmed with awe and thankfulness that God has raised up a church here in Tempe.  He called us here and then has shown himself faithful to bring water to the thirsty in the desert.  The people coming to our church are more and more committed to God and community and are excited to be a part of Antioch.  We are caught up in a move of God out here!  Want to hear a fun story?  I went to Yogurtland sometime in mid-November, and I noticed that they were going to have something called "12 Days of Christmas" Dec. 1-12... each day there would be a new flavor.  I noticed that on Dec. 8 was my favorite flavor--Cinnamon Graham Crackers!  SO I told myself that whatever was going on that day, I would go to Yogurtland and get my favorite yogurt!  The day I went I ended up praying for the girl at the counter--a freshman at ASU.  She was sobbing at the end of my prayer (praying for her history exam and for a good Christmas break) because she has been wanting to go to church but hasn't found one or made it a priority.  I told her about how much God loves her and she was so touched.  She is planning on coming next semester to church.  God loves her so much that He set up this meeting way in advance--and I got Cinnamon Graham Cracker yogurt to top it off!  :)

We are about to head to the airport now.  I just wanted to post an update before the holidays were over.  Here are a few more pictures from our last church service.
Love to all who read and Merry Christmas!!

We have a full worship band--harmonica and all!

Our children's ministry is called AntiochKids!

Future worship leader, Ellie Phillips.

Love these girls.

Graice Loo Who

Our sweet friends, Jessica and Ian from Korea

potluck remnants

Church happening.

Community and life!

Our sweet Antioch Kids!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Andy's mom and stepdad flew out to sunny Tempe to join us for this Thanksgiving weekend.  They got in yesterday afternoon--just in time for us all to experience my oven smoke show and exploding glass fireworks together!  (My foil roasting pan had a hole in the bottom, which I didn't realize until I checked on the bird halfway through roasting and wondered where all the juices were... and I inadvertently left an empty glass 9x13 Pyrex dish on the hot electric stovetop, only for it to explode into thousands of shards and pieces all over the kitchen and living room...)

I'm thankful that I have a good sense of humor and know when to laugh at myself!  

I'm also thankful that for whatever reason, I moved away from the stove for a moment to collect my thoughts seconds before the glass exploded...  My only injuries were 3 pieces of glass that landed on my toe, foot, and knee.

(Can you imagine if I had been standing at the stove?  Can you say jugular vein?!  Eyeballs?!)

Despite my mishaps, our dinner was quite delicious.  We took a halfhour detour to vacuum and collect glass pieces, then we sat down around 6:30pm for a lovely dinner. 

I miss my family (this is the second Thanksgiving in a row without them), but we love spending time with Lyn and Ron and are so thankful they are visiting.

Here are some pictures of our feast:

The bird.  Brined overnight in a delicious concoction of maple syrup, honey, salt, cloves...

The BEST homemade garlic rolls

Stuffing--recipe from Chef Rebekah (a good friend from our church here)

Cranberry orange relish

Honey garlic sauteed carrots

Homemade green bean casserole (with fried shallots to boot!)

Always my favorite part of the plate!

Our tiny little table.  Can't wait to have a place big enough to have our dining room table again!

Lyn's plate

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are experiencing the blessings of having a thankful heart.  

"Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name."
Psalm 100:4

Team Retreat : Sedona

Last weekend, our Tempe team took a 4 day retreat to the beautiful red rock country of Sedona, Arizona to celebrate our first 100 days as Antioch Community Church: Tempe!  What a blast we had!  We had a team retreat planned ever since we started, knowing from other church planters that the first 100 days as a church plant is hard--in the sense that we will be working our booties off and just persevering in all things.  Having a retreat as a time to praise God and look back on our beginnings was a fun thing to look ahead to at times.  (Disclaimer... although we have been working hard and persevering through this season, that doesn't mean it hasn't been FUN, EXCITING, and REWARDING!  Also, this does not mean life will be cake now.  We are all in this for the longhaul and ready for the next season of church planting.)

On this retreat, we...
gazed upon the beauty of the Lord, 
hiked a beautiful mountain trail, 
relaxed inside reading and 
eating and
eating some more, 
played Spades, 
made meals together, 
sat in the hot tub, 
looked at the stars, 
worshiped together, 
encouraged one another, 
thanked God for all the He has done...

It was SUCH  fun time!  I took 2 days off of work to  be on this retreat, and it was so worth it.  We loved getting extended time together as friends--and family.  We really feel  like we're a family and that more and more people are joining us. 

Here are some pictures from the weekend...
Gorgeous  view from the house we stayed in!

Greetings from Sedona!

Gracie's crazy hair

Me and Ellie taking a dip

More beauty

Joy sadly forgot Emmy's bumbo... so she rigged a contraption using pillows and Adam's belt!  Emily didn't seem to mind...

Where's my food?

Hiking West Fork trail

Tempe women

Bringing a little Jersey to the west... Andy knocking down dead trees... a ritual started in the Jersey woods with his best friend Matt.

Antioch Tempe team!

Travis and his two older girls.  Love this fam!

Love this fam, too! :)

Kristen and me.  Love this friend!!

The Phillips Family