Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 | a year in review

i started blogging consistently in September 2013, so this was my first full year blog journey & i love having all the little moments of this past year to look back on! i joined in with Amanda doing Project 12 - a recap post & picture each month of the year. i love having the small details of each month all in one place! Thomas & i also did a passport to fun date each month to a different part of the world & had a blast with creating these dates! so here's a look back to this past year & a look forward to 2015! 

project 12 | 01 & passport to fun | Paris
- i was super excited starting 2014 because it is my first full year as Mrs. Black! i don't really do resolutions, but i chose BALANCE as my word for 2014.  
- Thomas & i built a custom coffee table out of an old window from our house!
- we cooked a few delicious & healthy meals!
- i discussed the importance of keeping scripture close & shared my dagger list.

project 12 | 02 & passport to fun | Tokyo
- i thought a lot about what it means to be brave.
- Thomas & i finished our first whole 30 together & reflected on the journey.
- i introduced our sweet little dogs to the blog world!
- this blog got a name change! Robyn's Nest was born in an attempt to make this place uniquely me!
- i discussed the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to social media.
- i revisited my word for the year & gave an update on what balance means to me.
- i introduced Darby Smart - a company that sends DIY boxes straight to your door!
- i made a few customized frames as birthday gifts!
- Thomas & i signed up for our first 5k & i talked about the reasons why we signed up!
- i participated in the spring fever etsy swap reveal!
- the church plant Thomas & i are a part of had their first sunday service!
- i shared our spicy black bean burger recipe that we love!

project 12 | 05 & passport to fun | London
- i finished documenting our little farmhouse so we will always have pictures & memories of the first house we lived in as husband & wife!
- i tried my hand at a little short fiction piece!
- Thomas & i made some mini terrariums to hang on our fridge!
- i reflected back on the first year of our marriage including all of the awesome & crazy things that happened!
- i made a coffee table tray out of leftover fabric from our curtains!
- i shared some tips on how i make it through the 9 hour work day in an office job!
- we started doing meal prep on the weekends to save time on week nights!
- Thomas & i ran our first 5k and did well (for us) considering we didn't finish training.
- i introduced our woodland pet that lives under our barn.
- we got a pet bunny named Albus!
- i made a DIY engagement gift for my friend who got engaged.
- i did some thinking about what it means to be a wholehearted wife.
- i also reflected on my tattoos & the reasons why i have them.
- i shared a peek of what i carry around in my bag daily!
- i helped host a bridal shower for my friend & had a lot of fun decorating!
- i took a look at our go-to weeknight meals which are quick & healthy!
- i realized that life is messy & i am okay with that! also, that being vulnerable is the key to growth!
- i sent some fun snail mail to my friend who lives in Russia!
- i shared some of our funniest & best marriage advice we got!
- i shared the 7 arrows of Bible reading that my pastor came up with.
- Thomas & i tried out some new (to us) restaurants around town!
- i reflected on a few of my favorite things about fall & had a fun autumn afternoon!
- Thomas & i re-created our first date like we do each year!
- i shared 30 things that make me smile!
- Thomas & i did a hay ride and corn maze at a local farm!
- i went on the Renew Retreat & had an amazing weekend getting to know so awesome ladies!
- i reflected on what it means to be lovely & the big picture in life.
- i shared my new love of stencils & a new recipe that we love!
- Thomas & i went yurting over halloween weekend.
- i reflected back on some great snips of advice i learned in college.
- i learned i need to slow down & be intentional in order to hear God's voice.
- i reflected on the past year & concluded there is always something to be thankful for.

project 12 & passport to fun will post in January!
- i made holiday tea lights for my coworkers for Christmas.
- i discussed how we do all of our Christmas shopping early & what a blessing that was this year!
- Thomas & i made little candy penguins out of marshmallows & gum drops!
- we went to a house in our city that timed their lights to the Trans Siberian Orchestra!
- we reflected on how He is with us during this advent season & i tried my hand at a little creative writing!
- for Christmas, i gave Thomas the gratitude journal i had secretly been keeping about him.

happy new year friends! 
what were some of your favorite moments from 2014?

Monday, December 29, 2014

project gratitude

earlier this year, i read about Sarah's gratitude journal that she kept about her husband. basically, she realized that she had a tendency to focus more on what her husband didn't do rather than what he did, who he wasn't rather than who he is. so, for a year she wrote down moments, words, actions that made her grateful for him. 

i love journaling and sentimental gifts, plus i realized that i have that same tendency & this would be a great project to help my heart keep the right focus. i started in June, but wanted to use this as a Christmas gift so i decided on doing a 6 month journal instead. 

i obviously never blogged about this journal and that's because my husband reads this blog! it was challenging to keep the journal a secret at times. on weekdays i could just journal in it at work, but on the weekends or vacations i had to get more creative! 

i didn't want him to see me writing in it & ask what i was doing because there would only be two options - tell him and ruin the element of surprise, or not tell him and have him wonder what i was hiding for a year. he actually did see me writing in it a few times & it was extra tricky to get out of it! i'm sure he thought something was up but he must have just brushed it off!

finding time to secretly write in the journal really was the biggest challenge. when i first started the journal, i wondered how i could possibly have 182 different things to write down. i thought maybe some days it would be hard to write something down, especially days where i didn't even see him. 

but you know what? that is exactly the opposite of what happened! most days i had to debate about what to write because there were so many moments to choose from! some days it was so hard to pick just one thing!

this project helped me to see my husband in a new light, appreciate him for the amazing man he is, and it got me in the habit of recognizing what i'm grateful for each day! it also helped me see that even if i am annoyed at something, if i look closer then i can be grateful for it! it brought a renewed gratefulness to our marriage - simply by changing the way i think & see him! 

and now, even though i'm no longer keeping the journal, this project has forever changed the lens through which i look. even though i am not writing it down, i am still noticing. noticing how much of a blessing he is, noticing the little things he does, noticing the joy that exists between us, noticing the beauty of life and our life together. it's good to notice. it's good to remember.

i wish i could share the entire journal with you, but i know it's not as interesting a read to someone that isn't married to my husband! ;) so instead, i will just highlight my favorite excerpts from the journal!


July 6, 2014 
we stayed overnight at the hospital (with Thomas's grandpa & got little to no sleep) but Thomas still went to run sound at church early because no one else could do it. he's a dependable man!

July 19, 2014
Thomas sent me pictures of our pets since i'm away & miss them! he knows how much i love our pets!

August 15, 2014
Thomas runs errands on his lunch break so we don't have to do it after work & it gives us more time together! he's very thoughtful.

August 20, 2014
Thomas is always so patient with me. he encourages & challenges me in that.

October 5, 2014
Thomas takes an interest in other people & makes them feel included.

October 30, 2014
when we go on trips, Thomas thinks of EVERYTHING to pack!

November 6, 2014
Thomas is always very quick to apologize. it's an admirable trait!

December 7, 2014
Thomas helps me with crafts i make & the passport to fun dates.

are you inspired like i was when i first heard this idea? i challenge you to keep a gratitude journal of your own! it could be about your husband, your family, your friends, or just all of the everyday moments God gives you! look for the beauty, it's there.

have you ever kept a gratitude journal or something similar?

Friday, December 26, 2014

scenes of Christmas

Merry Christmas! I hope all of you had a great time with family & friends celebrating! Thomas had to work on Christmas Eve & today but we've made the most of his time off! we spent Christmas Eve with my family, Christmas morning with each other, & Christmas day with his family. & it's not over yet! we still have a busy weekend ahead of us with more get togethers!

how were your Christmas celebrations?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Mary's Christmas | a poem

this year, i wanted to reflect on the Christmas story in a deeper way than just reading the accounts in Matthew & Luke. i decided to slow down to journal & write. this is the outcome... a poem from Mary's point of view on that first Christmas. enjoy!

my sweet Joseph is just, he has always been fair
but he wasn't with me when i saw the angel standing there
i don't blame him for not believing
i don't blame him for thinking of leaving
but i wish i could make him see,
that the Lord has chosen me.

my sweet Joseph has had a dream
an angel visited him, as they did me
all is clear now, all is right
i am still to be his wife
we both understand, yes we both see
this baby is bigger than Joseph or me

we're on our way to Bethlehem
riding a not-so-noble steed
we're on our way to David's town
for a census that Caesar decreed
when we arrive we're told there's no room in the inn
so the stables are where we settle in

it's far from a silent night
but oh, what a wondrous sight
he looks so little, he looks so frail
i wish that he could be all mine
but i know he is bigger than that
this child is divine, this child is Thine

i can scarcely take it in
this child, this Savior, this King
the son of God born in a stable
though on a throne he should have been
and he's sleeping in this manger now
because there was no room in the inn


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

He is with us

He came to earth. He came for us. the God of the universe humbled himself and came down to earth in the form of man. just let that sink in. how many people in positions of authority would do that? Jesus is the ultimate undercover boss! He was with us then. He is with us now. He came to literally be with us, walk among us, fellowship with us. He was all in. even though His human body is not with us anymore, He is still all in. He is still with us.

Thomas & i have deemed our Christmas very low key this year. because of all of the things we have going on, we just need that this year. we don't actually need a real Christmas tree, pinterest-worthy gift wrap, or stress over the perfect decorations. what we need is rest in Jesus & intentional time together. i mentioned that we had all of our shopping done by October, and that has been such a blessing this year especially!

we didn't get a tree this year & we didn't even put up our full size fake one. we put up our small white one, threw a few ornaments on it, and hung twinkle lights in the living room. & then we were done. we love Christmas traditions, decorating the whole house, and doing any & all Christmas related things. we haven't fully skipped out on those this year, and next year we will be right back at it. but this year... we both just feel so heavy & weighted down. we realized we didn't need all of that.

wasn't the first Christmas pretty low key? Mary, Joseph, and Jesus cuddled up in a barn. Jesus was born because the world needed a Savior. that still rings true today... we all still need a Savior. the Savior coming down to earth... that is what really makes Christmas the most wonderful time of the year! 

so that's where we are this year. we need the Savior. we need reflection. our souls need rest. so we've spent less time on decorating & stressing, and more time on advent study & enjoying time with each other. we didn't need decorations this year, we needed to find comfort in the fact that He is with us through all of the unknown. & you know what? it's been the best December yet. :)

scenes from a #lowkeyChristmas

nativity print // Hello Lovely People  |  advent calendar // Naptime Diaries

White as Snow print // Lindsay Letters  |  Christmas card // Minted

reflect on & rejoice in the Savior today! 

Monday, December 22, 2014

October 26th | Part 3

This story is written like fiction, but it is very true. It happened in October of 2012, so some of the details may be a little hazy to me but the story is as accurate as I recall. I wanted to have an account of the craziest thing that happened to me in my life thus far & thought it would be fun to write it in story form. This story is written in parts, so it will make more sense if you read from the beginning!


Hi, Dad. I'm at the doctor and they've found some kind of cyst. They scheduled me for an appointment with a surgeon in about 2 hours... 

I'm coming to the doctor's office. Stay in the waiting room and I'll be right there.

My mind is racing. I'm sitting in the waiting room constantly patting my eyes. There are so many unknowns inside of me that there's no room for the tears, so they are flowing out.

My phone lights up. It's a text from Thomas, my fiancĂ©. How did the doctor's visit go? I know he must be dying to know what I found out. But I don't want to tell him over a text, and I can't spit out a sentence without sobbing so I can't call him.

My dad comes in and thanks the doctor. We go sit in his car. It's now an hour and a half until the surgeon appointment. He asks what I want to do.

I need to call my professor and tell him I can't take the test today.

Ok. Then I can drive you to Thomas's work, if you want, so you can tell him in person. 

I send Thomas a text. Hey, my dad is driving me to your work. We'll be there in 20 minutes. Can you come outside to talk?

Whenever you get a text like that, you know it's not good news. Good news could be told over the phone, but bad news is always told in person.

As soon as I tell Thomas about the surgeon appointment, he tells me that he's going to come with me. It's not a question, it's a statement. Just a few short weeks ago I agreed to become his wife, so he is all in and he's going to be with me during the unknowns.

My dad drives us to get lunch before the appointment, but we are all so nervous we barely eat anything. Then it's time.

We check in at the Cancer Center and take a seat in the waiting room. I look around at the magazines and pamphlets about cancer. Cancer. Is this even real life? I know that I'm here to see a surgeon and that there is a possibility of this cyst being cancerous. But at the same time, my mind just doesn't accept it. Most people do the same thing each and every day. You hear stories about cancer but you don't ever think about it happening to you.

My mind isn't filled with wedding plans or Chemistry notes. It's not even filled with cancer oddly enough. All I can think about is surgery. I've never had surgery before and no one close to me has had surgery in years. I start to realize that I have no idea what surgery entails at all. As I'm thinking about how surgery is a huge unknown to me, I hear my name.

Robyn, the surgeon will see you now. Your dad and fiance may come back with you.

[to be continued]

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

passport to fun | Moscow

in November, passport to fun took us to Moscow! (we missed the mark a little & actually did it in December) the holiday season is super busy, so we went very low key for Moscow. we made beef stroganoff at home & spent the night playing Tetris. why Tetris, you ask? because it was designed & programmed by Alexey Pajitnov, who is Russian. so it fit the theme & it's really fun! 

i don't have traditional Russian Nesting Dolls, but i do have penguin nesting dolls so i figured that was close enough! ;) we made Russian tea cakes for dessert & they were delicious! we planned on making Russian Tea but it didn't fit in the budget, so we had chai tea instead! i bet at least one person in Russia drinks chai tea! we had a lot of fun with our Tetris battles & can't believe there's only one more passport to fun date left for the year! how did 2014 go by fast?! seriously, this year was supersonic speed fast!

what's your favorite Russian dish?