Days 59-63: 100 Moments of Joy

Merry Christmas (one day late)! This is my favorite holiday of the year. It’s been a little different this year celebrating with my husband’s family. We’ve been married for two months and two days. It’s fun to observe and participate in the Longenecker family traditions and favorite holiday activities.

Day 59: On Tuesday we went to Nauvoo, Illinois, a historic town built up by the Mormon pioneers and the location of where I served my LDS mission. Learning about the lives of the pioneers who lived in Nauvoo brings great perspective. I prayed before I went that my heart would open to a perspective shift to more fully focus on faith. I’ve learned the most joyful times of life are the times I am leading a life of faith.

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The Nauvoo Visitors’ Center had a beautiful Christmas tree.

Day 60: On Wednesday, John and I went on a long walk with his grandma’s dog “Buddy.” The weather was beautiful, and the scenery gorgeous. Going on walks brings joy. I appreciate the opportunity to step away from the hustle and bustle and focus on the beauty of the earth. About 20 minutes after we came inside, a thunderstorm commenced and a tornado touched down across the river – crazy!

Day 61: Watching this video before I fell asleep brought joy as I reflected on the birth of Jesus Christ. I had never seen this video before.

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Christmas Eve also marked the two month married mark for John and I!

Day 62: Yesterday was Christmas. The highlight of the day was talking with my brother Blake, who is on a mission for our church. Even though John and I were in Iowa, we were still able to FaceTime with him and my family. The rest of the day was also full of Christmas cheer and joy. We opened presents in the morning with John’s immediate family. In the late afternoon, his extended family came over to his parents’ house for Christmas dinner. One of my favorite Longenecker traditions is “Christmas Cookies.” His family prepares these cookies months ahead of Christmas and then freezes them. My favorite of the “Christmas Cookies” are the peanut butter balls.

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My last picture with Blake before he left on his mission.

Day 63: Today we were supposed to head down to Nauvoo today to go to the Temple, but because of some things beyond on control, we ended up spending the day at John’s mother’s parents’ home. I played Phase 10 for the first time with John, Jenny (John’s sister), and Grandma June. Even though I was disappointed we didn’t make it to the Temple, it was a fun afternoon. Playing games with family generally always seems to bring joy. I appreciate the opportunity to slow down and spend time with each other.

10.24.2015: Our Wedding Day

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I’ve been meaning to write a post about our wedding day for a few weeks now. This past Saturday marked the final wedding celebration – the Open House in Iowa for John’s family and friends. Now it’s on to writing lots and lots of thank you cards!

Since I haven’t been able to fully put into words the experience of the day, I decided to write down ten wedding memories and share ten of my favorite wedding pictures.

1) One of my greatest wedding desires was to keep our wedding day focused on the ceremony and the promises to God and each other that we made that day. We opted to get married in the morning and then have a luncheon with family and close friends at Maggiano’s, one of my all-time favorite restaurants. We then had our Virginia Open House/Reception the following weekend. I loved the fact we structured the events this way. It made the actual wedding day so special and less tiresome than it could have otherwise been. It was also super fun to come back from our honeymoon and still celebrate our wedding with additional friends that next weekend at the Virginia Open House. We’ve both commented to one another how grateful we are for how our wedding day was structured.

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2) When we arrived at the Temple to be married, we were seated on a bench in the foyer waiting for our parents to arrive. While sitting on the bench, I remembered I had both of our wedding bands in my bag. So I pulled out the band that John needed and handed it to him. What I didn’t notice, but John was aware of, was a group of teenage girls standing nearby. When they saw me pull out the ring boxes, they got very giggly and were SO excited to see a bride and groom. At that point, we weren’t dressed in our wedding attire, so aside from hearing our conversation and seeing the ring boxes, they would’ve had no idea we were about to get married.

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3) We were married in the Washington D.C. LDS Temple. Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to be married in an LDS Temple. You’ll see in the picture below the inscription, “The House of the Lord. Holiness to the Lord.” I am grateful to have been married in such a sacred place that will serve as as symbol for us of the types of lives we want to lead.

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4) The fall leaves looked incredible on our wedding day. You never know what weekend the fall leaves are going to peak. Some years the leaves peak early in the season, and some years the leaves peak late. I am not really sure when the leaves are supposed to be at their peak, but they were gorgeous on our wedding day.

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5) My favorite part of the wedding festivities, aside from marrying John, was the opportunity to spend time with family. My brother came into town, as well as other aunts, uncles, and cousins. The night before the wedding, my family had a bonfire in our backyard and roasted s’mores and hot dogs. We sat around the fire, ate delicious food, chatted, and laughed. It was such a fun evening and one I’ll remember for a long time.

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6) Before the actual ceremony, the officiator who married John and I gave us advice and counsel. As I sat next to John during this time and held hands, I felt such peace and gratitude for what was about to happen. I loved the feeling of anticipation.

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7) Throughout the whole wedding process I’ve been overwhelmed by the support and kindness of others. From an uncle who spent a whole day arranging the centerpieces and making my bouquet to aunts who devoted countless hours making cookies, helping my mom prepare for the Open House, etc. to the women at Harris Teeter who hand filled all of the cannolis for our Open House and were meticulous in their attention to detail, there were so many people who made us feel special and loved. Being the beneficiary of such love and support made me want to strive even more to support, love, and serve those around me.

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8) Instead of having a traditional, large wedding cake at our Open House, we opted for five smaller wedding cakes. And oh my goodness, they were so good! Multiple people commented on how much they looooved the cakes. The amazing thing is the cakes were from Harris Teeter, a local grocery store. We had taste tested cakes at a local bakery that had received a number of awards for their wedding cakes, but they paled in comparison to the cakes from Harris Teeter. My favorite was the raspberry chocolate cake. That is what I want for my birthday cake every year now 🙂

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9) I loved the luncheon at Maggiano’s. The food was delicious, the staff so helpful, and the opportunity to celebrate the day with family and friends in that environment was exactly what I was hoping for. We had four toasts during the luncheon, and each one touched on a different aspect of marriage. I appreciated the wisdom shared and the congratulatory wishes. The luncheon was perfect. What surprised me though about the whole wedding process was that is wasn’t the formal wedding events I most enjoyed but the informal interaction with friends and family who came to celebrate with us.

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10) Lastly, and most importantly, the most special aspect of the day was the person I got to marry. John is an anchor for me. He keeps me grounded. I don’t want to get mushy or cheesy on here. So I’ll keep this short and sweet by saying he helps me see the best in myself and the best in the world around me.

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Days 55-58: 100 Moments of Joy

We’re in Iowa to celebrate Christmas with John’s family. On Saturday, we had our Iowa Open House to celebrate our wedding. It was a long day but a fun one. I hardly knew anyone, but it was great to meet people who’ve influenced John’s life.

Now, to catch up on my “100 Moments of Joy” project…

December 18: The car ride to Iowa provided us with some beautiful scenery. My favorite was the sunset we saw. I love the sky, and it’s beauty helps me to feel joy and feel of the grandeur of God.

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A blurry picture of the sunset I tried to capture.

December 19: Saturday was the day of our Iowa Open House. All of the wedding festivities, including this one, have brought joy. Over and over again I have been touched by the generosity and kindness of those who have celebrated with us.

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A selfie before the Open House.

December 20: Before church, I read an article in the Ensign (LDS Church magazine) that touched my heart and brought joy as I reflected on the counsel given.

December 21: Last night (into early this morning) John and I stayed up just talking. Life is busy for us (as it is for everyone!) and it is nice to not have any looming deadlines in front of us right now.

 

Day 54: 100 Moments of Joy (Christmas Carols)

Last night John and I stopped by my parents’ house to pick up some items. When we arrived, my mom was practicing Christmas carols with a friend. My family has a tradition of Christmas caroling each year. And this year, this friend of my mom will join in. So, John, my dad, and I joined them at the piano and sung a few Christmas carols. Singing songs about Christ’s birth with loved ones always brings joy to my heart.

This experience reminded me of last Christmas when my family headed to the Kennedy Center in DC to participate in the annual Messiah Sing-a-long. I love the power of music and the emotions music can conjure inside of me.

My sister's Instagram post from last year at the Kennedy Center's Messiah Sing-a-long.
My sister’s Instagram post from last year at the Kennedy Center’s Messiah Sing-a-long.

Days 46-53: 100 Moments of Joy

It’s been eight days since I’ve posted. Eight days. While that doesn’t sound like a long time, when you’re trying to blog daily, eight days feels like a long stretch.

Although I haven’t been recording my daily “Moments of Joy,” I’ve had at least one experience each day when I’ve thought, “This would be a great thing to write about on my blog tonight!” Alas, I never actually got around to posting those experiences. However, below are eight moments when I’ve felt joy over the last eight days (in no particular order)…

  1. Seeing a truly beautiful sunrise yesterday morning. I couldn’t take a picture because I was driving.
  2. Driving around with John to check out Christmas lights in nearby neighborhoods.
  3. Listening to President Uchtdorf’s talk from this year’s LDS Christmas Devotional.
  4. Reading about Jesus Christ in the scriptures by the light of our Christmas tree.
  5. Shopping for Christmas gifts and thinking about the people in my life whom I love.
  6. Receiving and delivering Christmas goodies.
  7. Relaxing on Sunday night with John and his uncle and playing “The Grandfather Game.”
  8. Looking at my wedding pictures.
Another one of my favorites :)
Another one of my favorites 🙂

B1G Ten Championship: My Hawkeye Experience

So, I’ve never followed college football. Ever. I attended Brigham Young University, and while I went to a number of games, I really had no idea what was going on. I am not certain I ever sat through an entire football game.

Then a year and a half ago I meet John, my now husband, who happens to be a huge Iowa Hawkeyes football fan. Such a big fan that our wedding date had to be Iowa’s bye week (October 24), so he didn’t have to miss a game. Okay, okay that part isn’t actually true. We did get married on October 24, but it has nothing to do with Iowa’s football schedule. Although I am certain that was a nice bonus for him 😉

As the college football season began, my participation level in the experience was toleration. As the season progressed and as Iowa experienced win after win, my interest grew stronger. By the time the Nebraska game rolled around, I didn’t want anyone to talk to me during the game because I was so nervous for the Hawkeyes. I wanted them to win so badly.

A little over halfway through the season, I found incredibly priced airline tickets to Indianapolis for the weekend of the B1G Ten Championship game. John and I decided that we would go ahead and purchase tickets, even though we weren’t sure the Hawkeyes would be joining us in Indianapolis for the big game. Well, guess what, they did. Thanks, boys!

When we bought the tickets, I was excited for John to be able to go to the game, but I was somewhat indifferent. However, my attitude changed as I began to understand more and more about football. John was very patient with me the whole season and would explain and re-explain the strategy. Who knew penalties and field goals made such a difference?!

I loved my B1G Ten Championship experience, although the ending was a true heart breaker. Thank you Hawkeyes for a great season and thank you Iowa fans for the spirit you brought to that game! It was amazing.

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We drove with Iowa flags on our car to the airport.
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We took a picture with the trophy before the game.
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The pep rally!

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Days 41-45: 100 Moments of Joy

I’ve missed posting the last five days. Life has been full and fun. John and I went to Indianapolis for the B1G Ten Championship this weekend (I’ll write about that in my next post), and we’re spending time soaking up the Christmas season. To make up for the five days I missed, I will write about five experiences that have brought joy.

1. Celebrating Sinter Klaas Day with my extended family – My great grandma came to America from Holland. Because of her and her heritage, we celebrate Sinter Klaas Day on December 5. We put out our shoes, and if we’ve been good, Sinter Klass fills them with little presents. Our extended Morgan family in the DC area usually always have a dinner to celebrate this day and sometimes “Sinter Klaas” makes an appearance 😉 This year was no different. We enjoyed yummy food and a special visitor!

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2. Seeing how happy John was to be at the B1G Ten Championship – John loves Iowa football and seeing them play in the B1G Ten Championship was such a treat. I loved seeing how happy he was to be there. Even though the ending was really sad!

3. Driving past houses decorated for Christmas – I love seeing Christmas lights on people’s homes. Seeing Christmas lights has brought joy and happiness to my heart.

4. Wrapping Christmas presents in front of the Christmas Tree – Last night I dimmed the lights in the apartment and let the lights of the Christmas tree glow as I wrapped presents. I am trying to do something Christmasy each day.

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5. Feeling peace and happiness while attending a Spanish speaking congregation – John and I attended a different church congregation than normal since we were out of town this weekend. We didn’t realize until we got to church that we would be attending a Spanish speaking congregation. Even though I couldn’t understand what they were saying for the most part, the spirit I felt as they shared their belief in Christ filled my soul with peace.

Days 39 and 40: 100 Moments of Joy

The last two days have been normal, average days (a fact that I appreciate). Two days ago I felt joy FaceTiming with John. The technology that can keep families and friends connected is incredible. I am grateful for technology.

Yesterday evening I attended a Christmas event at my church for the women in my church congregation. Fellowshipping with the other women and listening to the beautiful message and music brought the joy of the Christmas season to my heart.

On Monday, John and I watched this short video that reminded me of the need to seek Christ and follow him every day. Merry Christmas!

Day 38: 100 Moments of Joy (Friends)

Today I received my wedding pictures. When I first got the pictures, I was a little disappointed. I analyzed and analyzed them, and I wasn’t really a fan. My coworker (and friend!) caught me looking at them. She then wanted to see them. So, we went through them together. She helped me see the good in the pictures, and now I am in love with them.

It’s so easy to be hypercritical of ourselves and the way we look and/or the way we want things to be. It’s important to have friends who help us see the best in ourselves and the best in what we have. Those are the friends who bring true joy 🙂

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One of my favorite photos from our wedding.

Day 37: 100 Moments of Joy (Pizza)

Yesterday, joy came in the form of a confirmation email from Pizza Hut forwarded by husband. John knew I had been craving take-out pizza (don’t judge!), and he knew that Monday night was going to be a busy night. So he ordered pizza for dinner. It wasn’t the email itself that brought joy, but knowing John was thinking about me. His act of kindness made me want to be better about performing acts of service for him and for others.

And bonus, the pizza hit the spot!