Happy Anniversary!

4 years ago yesterday Ryan and I met for the first time after finding each other on OkCupid.  After that first (5 hour!) date, we both knew there was the potential of something more but had no idea where this relationship would take us.  Now we’re celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary in our new home in Perth, Australia after traveling around the US and around the world too.

3 years ago today, Ryan and I got married in Santa Barbara, California at beautiful Franceschi Park.  If you missed the wedding because we’re new friends or you want to re-watch our wonderful ceremony, you can check it out on our webpage: Ryan and Joy’s Wedding or directly on Youtube: Ryan and Joy’s Wedding.

Happy Anniversary to my favorite husband!  You drive me crazy but I wouldn’t change this life with you.  I’m looking forward to many more years and many more memories together.

Flooding in Two Places

We can easily compared the weather here in Perth to the weather in Sacramento.  Although the patterns may be a bit different, the average highs and lows are pretty similar and both areas are also known for their droughts.  The only major difference is that, on average, Sacramento gets two more inches of rainfall a year.  It’s currently winter in California and Summer in Perth but there has been an unusual amount of rainfall in both places which has lead to widespread flooding.  Although it needs to be mentioned that despite some unseasonably cool days, the rain here has been accompanied by warm and muggy weather so it’s definitely not winter here.

In Australia there has been enough water to create a waterfall on Wave Rock where Ryan and I visited on our trip in 2014.  It’s probably amazing to see in person but possibly dangerous to get to currently because the flooding has been along both the Swan River and the Avon river.  Here are a couple news articles if you’re interested: WA Towns Flooded and Heavy Rain Wreaks Havoc. The Swan River runs right in front of our apartment in Perth but the flooding hasn’t been in our area and we checked out the swollen Avon river while we were out in Brookton this weekend.  Some of the bridges to the north of Brookton are close to being covered and some of the places mentioned in these news articles are names we recognize because it’s an area where we could potentially work in the future.

As for Sacramento, my parents are a couple feet away from flooding which isn’t uncommon but if you can see in the picture of us, we’re standing on the deck and the grass below us is typically completely dry.  For a good number of years, the Sacramento river hasn’t even flooded it’s banks.  But now thanks to a very wet winter, not only is the drought in Northern California mostly over, some of the dams are reaching capacity and causing potential problems.  Evidently there is a spillway near Oroville (Thousands in California Told to Evacuate) that could possibly break sending water down the Feather River which feeds into the Sacramento River above my parent’s home.  My parents don’t need to evacuate yet but they have a plan and places to stay if needed.

Please pray for those being impacted by the flooding in both Western Australia and in California.

Tree Cutting 2016 – Zapp Family Tradition

One of my favorite family traditions is tree cutting up in Placerville.  I have so many amazing memories of cutting our own tree year after year, amazing Italian family meals, hanging out with cousins and being visited by Santa Claus.  It was wonderful to be able to celebrate one more time with my family before heading to Australia.screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-7-57-52-amIt’s about generations gathering together, reconnecting and making memories.screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-7-52-15-amIt wouldn’t be tree cutting if we didn’t walk over to the tree farm.  It’s just down the hill and up another hill.screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-7-51-02-amAnd you always have to find the perfect tree.  Sometimes it takes awhile but you know the right tree when you see it.screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-7-54-30-amThis is my crazy wonderful family.  I’m going to miss these special events.screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-7-52-58-amAnd the homemade raviolis.  They are amazing and delicious.  This is the Italian side of the family.screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-7-53-21-amAnd Grandma got a whoopee cushion from Santa Claus.  She’s going to be a riot in the community where she lives.screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-7-55-23-amThe average height in this group is 6’3.  We’re a tall family.Screen Shot 2016-12-19 at 7.56.00 AM.pngGo Zapp family cousins!

 

 

Good Goodbyes

Long drawn out goodbyes are one of the most difficult parts of this stage in the process.  We’ve been saying goodbye since November and it doesn’t get any easier.  I still don’t know the best way to say goodbye.  (Anyone have any tips?  I’d be happy to listen.)  Although, I do think it’s helpful to have a time when you choose to give an extra hug to someone, maybe say a word of prayer and at least remember that maybe this could be the last time you see each other for a relatively long period of time.

We had the opportunity for two wonderful goodbye parties this weekend.  Warm, cozy houses filled with lots of friends, good food, and visiting is always sweet.  And, of course, everyone always gathers in the kitchen.  I’m so thankful for these homes where Ryan and I have had so many great memories over the years.  Lord willing, there will be more memories made in these homes when we’re back for further visits.

The past two Sundays, we also had the opportunity to share our vision, say our thanks and goodbyes as well as be prayed over at the church where Ryan and I attended for our first two years of marriage.  It is very sweet to be surrounded by our church family who loves us well and we know will be praying for us as we set out to Australia.

During this process I have to remind myself that saying goodbye is challenging because we have many wonderful friends and supportive, loving families.  It’s these great relationships that are providing the foundation in support for us and our ministry.  These have been such good goodbyes.

15 Days Until Christmas Eve

Do you have your Christmas shopping done?  Ryan and I were done early because we were originally planning on being in Australia for Christmas.  But we’re thankful for the time we get to share with family and friends over the next couple of weeks.

Even though I’m typically an early shopper, there is often one or two people who make it a challenge to find just the right gift.  I know everyone has at least one hard to shop for person on their list.  And most everyone can do with a little nourishment.  I blogged about this when it first came out Nüresh- A New Way to Feed Your Mind, Soul and Spirit but I figured a little holiday reminder would be good because this would be a great gift for someone who is hard to shop for.screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-8-41-10-amFrom the description on the website: NÜRESH gives you thousands of hours of the most inspirational and informative premium spoken word content in one innovative and easy-to-use Web interface. Listen, learn and still have time to live your life.

And since it’s price had dropped recently, if you buy a subscription now, it’s only $9.99 per month for life.  So if you have a $30 shopping budget for that hard to shop for person in your life, you can give the gift of three months of listening and then if they choose to keep the subscription, it’s still affordable for them.screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-8-26-25-amRyan and I recently signed up and are excited to check out some of the speakers.  And the database of resources will just keep growing so we are looking forward to having access to the content as it increases too.  Give the gift of Nüresh this holiday season because it can nourish your mind, soul and spirit all year long!

Redeeming December 7th

December 7th will always be a day that will live in infamy.  But this doesn’t mean that it can’t be redeemed on a more personal level.  Today is also the day Ryan proposed to me 3 years ago.  And now 3 years later we have our tickets and are headed to Perth together.  If you want to look back and see, Perth was always the intended plan (Here’s the Plan) even if we were holding it rather loosely and praying, a lot.screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-8-15-01-amI’m so thankful for this man, our families and all our other friends and supporters who have been with us along the way.  Life is a crazy journey.  I’m also abundantly thankful for the faithfulness of Jesus who gives us much needed grace and mercy to keep moving forward.  Ryan and I will celebrate 3 years of marriage this February in Perth.  And to think it all started with an online date, a kangaroo and a ring.screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-8-15-23-am

 

Counting Christmas Cheer

Since we don’t have the snow to remind us that Christmas is coming, we have to rely on decorated shopping malls, cheerily lit homes after dark and our own Christmas traditions to help us get in the spirit of things.  Some of these things are on pause for us because we’re in transition but I can still do my best to celebrate what I can and savor the traditions I can still enjoy.  Here are 14 ways that I try to remind myself of the good things about the holidays and enjoy the anticipation of Christmas.screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-3-53-44-pm

  1. I blogged last week about The Season of Advent.  Having Advent reading, an Advent wreath and pausing at least once a day to read scripture and pray through the season reminds me of what is important during the holidays.
  2. Christmas music!  Once Thanksgiving has been celebrated, I am all for Christmas music.  Christmas music in the car, Christmas music at home, Christmas music in almost every store I walk into.  I love a good mix of secular favorites and Christian songs.  Each are festive in their own way.  It all makes me happy.
  3. Baking and making delicious goodies.  I will do a little baking this week but I look forward to making cinnamon rolls for my family to enjoy one morning and I’m sure there will be cookies made at some point too.  My tastebuds love Christmas.  And the smell of baking treats definitely helps get me in the Christmas mood.
  4. Decorations!  I really enjoy decorating for Christmas but this year in our home all we have is our Advent wreath because we are moving.  However, I look forward to being in my parent’s home and enjoying the beautiful tree lit for the week leading up to Christmas.  Next year we’re decorating right after Thanksgiving and we’ll leave it up until January 6th, 3 Kings Day also known as Epiphany.  I love stretching out the holiday season and enjoying the decorations as long as reasonable to my own standards.
  5. Christmas movie marathons.  I will watch Elf multiple times this season.  We’ve already watched Elf, The Grinch, Home Alone and A Christmas Story.  Tonight we will watch It’s a Wonderful Life.  There are so many good ones!  It’s fun to snuggle up in a warm house when it’s cool/cold outside and enjoy a good movie.  I’m also looking forward to watching the TV classics like Charlie Brown, Rudolf and Frosty the Snowman.
  6. Walking or driving through beautiful Christmas light streets.  Almost every town has a street known for the amazing Christmas decorations.  It’s always fun to gather a few friends, dress warmly, carry something warm to drink and enjoy the shining lights and creativity of our neighbors.
  7. Opening Christmas letters and cards.  In my circles, I have a lot of friends who keep in touch all year around but it’s typical to just hear major updates from people at the end of the year.  I love opening cards, seeing how the families have grown and hearing about the past year.  I enjoy celebrating the joys of life with people and being able to pray through the hard things too.  A mailbox filled with Christmas cheer is a wonderful thing.
  8. Early Christmas shopping.  There is nothing better than having your Christmas shopping done early.  Even if things don’t get wrapped right away, I love not having to think of last minute gifts.  This is definitely the planner in me but it allows me to better enjoy the holidays not having yet another unfinished list.
  9. Christmas wrapping.  Seeing a growing pile of pretty wrapped presents is always cheery and festive.  A little Christmas music or a Christmas movie and wrapping with a cup of hot chocolate is a wonderful way to spend an evening.
  10. Eggnog.  So before this year, I never would have said that eggnog was a necessary part of the holiday but then my sister-in-law introduced me to Royal Crest Dairy eggnog and now I’m hooked.  Although Royal Crest isn’t available everywhere, eggnog will definitely be a staple in our refrigerator this season.
  11. The Nutcracker Ballet.  I can’t always go and see The Nutcracker but when I can, I always enjoy it.  During the holidays growing up it was always a treat to dress up and attend The Nutcracker as a family.  It’s such a festive, entertaining part of the holidays.  And the music is beautiful too!
  12. Stockings.  There is something that is special about stockings to me.  Leading up to Christmas, I love looking at them hanging across the mantle or on the wall if there is no fireplace.  Even if we opened gifts on Christmas Eve, stockings were always Christmas morning.  And my favorite tradition is always finding a tangerine in the toe.  I look forward to making stockings something special for my own kids some day (this is NOT a pregnancy announcement).
  13. Candle Light Service.  There is something particularly beautiful and celebratory about a Christmas Eve candle light service.  It’s a wonderful way to calm our hearts and refocus during a busy season.
  14. Christmas reading.  In the past couple of years I would download a Christmasy book to enjoy leading up to Christmas.  Today, I sat with the pile of my childhood books that we will be shipping to Australia and read through all my favorite Christmas stories.  From The Polar Express to Santa Mouse, these are Christmas classics for me. The Story of Holly & Ivy is precious and The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree always makes me cry.  I fondly remember reading these books as a child and I still enjoy them now.

What are the traditions that help you remember, enjoy and anticipate Christmas?