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Dec 11, 2013

Christmas Magic

There's nothing I love more during Christmastime than to see people help and give to one another.  I especially love when I see big companies using their resources to do something magical.  So if you haven't seen this video yet, check it out!

Dec 10, 2013

Girl Talk // The Struggle of Advent

I had stayed late at church to work on decorating our stage for Christmas Eve.  In our Worship Center, away from windows and focused on the task at hand, I didn't see the snow and ice beginning to lay on the roads and grass until I walked out at 3:30pm.

My thoughts immediately went to my impending drive home, my mom worried about me, a car that doesn't have a great track record in the snow, and a climb up an icy mountain.  The drive that normally takes under twenty minutes ended up taking forty, with speeds topping out at twenty-five miles per hour, three tries before finally making it up the hill, and white-knuckled fingers gripping the wheel.

I wasn't necessarily nervous, (except for the moment where I slid through an intersection under a yellow light that was on the brink of becoming red), but I was certainly more alert and attentive to my driving, and the struggle, that it was to get home on Sunday.

Reflecting on that drive, and the coming holidays, I can't help but wonder….isn't that the way advent is?  We're all a little more attentive to the One we celebrate, and for many, advent is a struggle towards coming home.

There are some people, and maybe you're one of them, who feel the sharpness of pain or hurt or trouble as the season looms.

Even in that first Christmas, at the start of the story, there is struggle.

Mary didn't accept the news that she would bear the Son of God without first feeling troubled.  Joseph struggled with the knowledge that his fiancĂ© was pregnant, and not by him, before the angel appeared to him.  Zechariah struggled to understand how his aged wife could be with child.

Trouble.  Struggle.  Confusion.  They were there in the beginning, and they often rear their ugly heads to us now.

But the beautiful thing about advent is that the story, while riddled with struggle, doesn't end with it.  It ends with the birth of a Savior, and with Christ's birth, a promise of redemption for humankind.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible comes from the book of Matthew, and simply states "the people living in living in darkness have seen a great light" (Matthew 4:16).  I love the imagery of that verse…I always imagine a sun rising on the horizon, it's light slowly brightening and spreading inch by inch over the dark earth below.

And that's what Christmas does…it brings hope, it brings light.  It might seem like you're living in the land of darkness, but hold out for the light.  It's coming, the sun is rising.  Turn your face to the horizon.   And come home.

Whether you're facing this holiday without someone dear to you, coming home to a fractured relationship, or maybe just not feeling like yourself this holiday season, I encourage you to take heart.  The Christmas season may not always be a joyful one.  Heaven knows even the mother of Christ had her moments of struggle.

So dig deep into this advent season and discover joy through coming home to a Heavenly Father greater than anything this world could throw at you.

Dec 9, 2013

Sponsor Spotlight // Jess

I'm so excited to introduce you to one of my sponsors, Jess of Jess Vartanian Illustration + Design!  Jess runs an etsy shop featuring her own illustrations and designs, which are beautiful!  She also creates map prints and ornaments as well as jewelry with her illustrations.

I got the chance to ask Jess some questions about her illustrating.

When did you first start illustrating?  
I first started illustrating in college when I was majoring in Biology and using my art as a relaxing class. As college progressed I dove further and further into drawing and my love for art continued to progressinto today.

What made you decide to open an etsy store?  
I opened my etsy store about a year and a half after college when my now fiance finally convinced me to sell some of my illustrations and art.

What inspires you?  
Nature & using our zoo membership always inspires me and pushes me to create more.
You sell a few different types of products on your store (illustrations, map ornaments, bracelets, etc.).  What is your favorite to make?  
My favorite to make by far is my illustrations! I love drawing, but also love creating new items by hand!

Here are some of my favorite pieces in Jess' shop:

Check out her shop today!  She has some great gift ideas and holiday cards available!

Dec 8, 2013

Meet Oliver!

I've been such a terrible blogger lately!  Honestly, when AJ moved to Boston, I expected to have a ton of free time to fill, but as it turns out, each of the past few months have proven busier than the last.  November was packed with Jen's shower, my dad's surprise 50th birthday party, a trip to Boston, and a bunch of stuff going on at church.

But I've been wanting to introduce our new little family member here on the blog....
Ollie is our new Goldendoodle puppy.  He's 10 weeks old today, and he's so sweet and playful and cuddly!  He's also a little naughty, chewing everything (including us!), as puppies do.  It's so fun to have a dog in the house again, though Rexi and the other cats aren't quite sure what to do with him yet.  He just wants to be their friend and they aren't really having it.

Nov 18, 2013

Bridal Shower Games

UPDATE:  These games are no longer available for custom order.  Please check out my etsy shop for bridal shower games available for purchase!

I got such great responses to some of the fun little games that I created for Jen's shower last weekend, that I thought I'd post the actual jpg design files so that they're easy to see/read!  I have also designed more bridal shower games which can be found here.

I will be happy to customize one or both of the designs/invitation for you!  To get more info on this, or to find out pricing, email me at betsygettis@gmail.com.

We all know that the most boring part of a shower can be when the bride-to-be opens all of her gifts.  Sure, it's fun when she opens yours, but it's also not so great if you got her a spice rack and she's already opened three, or, if the shower is big enough that opening gifts takes forever.  So, to remedy this issue and keep our guests entertained, I created some little games for them to do while Jen opened her gifts.  We had the junior bridesmaids go around and hand one of each out to everyone, and the ladies were able to work on them at their leisure while watching Jen open her presents!

And a few more I created but we didn't actually use:

I printed these out on card stock and cut them down to be about half-sheet size.  They were a fun little way for guests to stay busy!  We simply collected the mad lib for Ben & Jen to read later, and we revealed the answers to the 10 Questions game by allowing Ben & Jen to answer each question in front of everyone.  It was fun to see what they agreed on and didn't see eye-to-eye on!

Oh, and here are the invitations I designed for Jen's shower (changed some of the info on them though!)

*I did get the concept for the games from a Pinterest post, but all designs are my work.

Nov 9, 2013

Jen's Rustic Shower

Today, we got to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of my best friend!  Jen and I have been friends since we were little, and we grew up going to church and school together.  She's my absolute best friend in the world, and she's just one of those girls who is totally a kindred spirit.  I'm so grateful to have her in my life and it was so much fun to get to plan a day just for her!
The day was full of fun little games and lots of food and fellowship...we had such a good time celebrating Jen and Ben and I think it was exactly what she hoped for!  I had fun putting the day together and I hope Jen enjoyed it!

Nov 6, 2013

Party Planning is my Life Right Now

My best friend is getting married in January and I have the honor of being her maid of honor!  I'm so excited for Ben and Jen, and this week, I'm even MORE excited about her bridal shower on Saturday!  I love planning parties and events, and bridal showers are so much fun because there's so much you can do with them!  We're having a brunch for Jen, and I'll be sharing photos from the day after it all happens, but I thought I'd share some of my favorite party ideas and inspiration in the meantime.

 I love the look of glass bottles scattered down a long table.  
(I collect them and they come in handy so often)

 Ok, I think any kind of "bar"...waffle, s'mores, mashed potato....is so fun!
It lets your guests get creative and customize things to their liking.

Earthy and rustic...I'm totally loving anything white birch right now!

These are fun and whimsical for a spring or summer wedding or party.
An easy way to customize a white paper lantern!

I love a well-styled table of any kind, and this desert table is wonderfully rustic and just lovely!

I'm so excited to share with you all the little details that we chose for Jen's shower!

Nov 4, 2013

Girl Talk // Surround Yourself with People Who are Better than You

I know it's been a little while since my last Girl Talk installment, but October was a little busy.  And frankly, November is shaping up to be even busier.

But I've been thinking about this one for a little while, and I think it's an important one.  So listen up. Please.  Thanks.

This past month, I officially accepted a job on the Creative Planning team at our church.  Long story short, I was doing an internship of sorts with our Director of Service Planning and then something opened up and they liked me and I liked them and now we're all happy.

And for the first time in a while, I'm feeling really challenged.  And learning a lot.  And I think part of the reason that's true is because I'm surrounded by people who are so much better than me at what they do.

AJ's mom and I had a conversation the other day about being secure as a leader.  We were talking about how it's really easy to feel threatened by other people (in the case of our conversation, volunteers) who are better than you at specific things.  And when you feel threatened, you tend to distance yourself from those who are better than you.

See, it's a lot easier to feel good about yourself when you're the best at x, y, & z.  But that's not how you grow.

I once heard Andy Stanley talk about this sort of thing.  He once said "It is a fallacy that great leaders are great at everything."  Great leaders are great when they surround themselves with people who can do things better than they can.

This isn't good advice for just leaders, though I fully believe that we're all leaders in some capacity.  It's true for anyone, because surrounding yourself with people who are better than you helps you to grow.

We've all been given different gifts, and let's face it, you'll probably never be the best at everything.  Part of life is learning to celebrate the strengths of others and giving them space and opportunity to exercise and develop their gifting.

When I was in college, I did a program called the Elijah Project, where a cohort of about 14 people spent a year studying work and vocation, exploring our strengths, and doing life together.  What I learned that year was invaluable.  I went from being someone who felt threatened by those with similar interests and gifts, to someone who was learning to celebrate the gifting that other people have.

As I've developed as a photographer and started to kind of chase that dream a little more in the past few years, there have been so many times when I've felt intimidated and less-than, just by looking at another artist's images.  It took some time, but eventually I just stopped looking at other photographers as competition, and started looking at them as inspiration and fuel to become a better photographer myself.

Our culture can be cut-throat.  TV and movies teach us to put distance between us and those who threaten us and our rise to the top.  But I think there's so much more to life than being at the top.  There's nothing wrong with wanting to be the best, but in my opinion, surrounding yourself with people who are better than you leads to a spirit of humility, deeper relationships, and growth.

Oct 24, 2013

5 Tips for Dealing with Distance

I never dreamed that I'd be in a long-distance relationship.  I guess no one really ever does, but I definitely did not.  Let me preface this post by saying that I'm absolutely, positively no expert.  Heck, AJ and I have only been in this stage of our relationship for a few months.  But as someone who spent time on a daily basis (we worked together!) with her boyfriend, I'll tell you that being long distance has been an adjustment.

When AJ finally made the decision to transfer to Berklee and move to Boston, all of the excitement and support I had been feeling for him vanished for a minute.  I remember looking at him with tears in my eyes and asking "what's my role in this?".  I felt so lonely so immediately, and for me, it was hard to imagine where I fit into his life from a distance.  My mom once said that this was going to be payback for what she did to her mom (my parents met when my dad was living in Ohio for work, fell in love, and decided to get married; their relationship was mostly long-distance, and they missed one another so much that they moved their wedding up to December, just six months after they had met; people said she looked like the most miserable bride when she was planning the wedding, but it was only because she missed my dad so much!).

I was never really worried or afraid of putting some space between AJ & I...we've got a really solid relationship, communicate well, and rarely argue, but of course, I also wasn't excited about it.  It definitely helps that I'm sure that Berklee is where God wants AJ to be.  But it has taken some effort on both of our parts to make this transition an easy one.  So I'd like to share 5 tips that have really helped me move into a long distance relationship.

1.  Be intentional, be there & make time for one another.  Your life fills up, and the time you used to spend with your significant other will get claimed by some other part of life.  There have been times when AJ and I have been on the phone and can tell that the other one is distracted and those conversations are never as fulfilling or as great as the ones when we're both fully "there"!

2.  Make things special!  One of my favorite things to do is to send AJ mail.  He loves finding a card in his mailbox and I love knowing that he's getting to open a hand-written card from me!  I never tell him that I'm sending something so that it's a complete surprise.

3.  Stay busy!  For me, the times when I feel most lonely are when I have nothing to do, so I like staying busy and having something to tell AJ when he asks me about my day!  Specifically, my advice would be to invest time into things that you've either been wanting to do for a while or that fell to the wayside when you started dating.  Have you always wanted to learn a new skill or hobby?  Do it!  (P.S. being in a relationship should never be an excuse for not pursing things that you love, but let's be honest, sometimes knitting takes a back seat to watching a movie with your boyfriend)

4.  Be understanding.  Sometimes it's hard, but understanding that each of you have separate schedules and lives is essential.  There are times when AJ calls me because he's walking home from class and I just can't talk.  We've learned to be good about asking the question "is this a good time?" and not just assuming the other person is available.  And sometimes, there are just days when talking on the phone or video chatting just doesn't happen.  That's life.

5.  Plan visits!  One of the most fun things about being in a long distance relationship is the potential for traveling!  AJ's been home once since he moved, and it was great.  But what was even more fun was the trip that I took to Boston.  Since he lives with my cousin and another roommate, I was able to just stay in their apartment and we got to spend time exploring Boston and spending time just the two of us.  Traveling can be expensive, but be on the lookout for deals on bus and plane fares.  Sign up for email alerts from airlines.  I get emails from JetBlue boasting $59 flights all the time.  Planning your travel well can mean a relatively cheap, (and definitely memorable) trip!

Are you in a long-distance relationship?  What are your tips for dealing with the distance?

Oct 20, 2013

Busy, Busy, Photoshoot Weekend

My weekend has been packed with two photoshoots (a senior and an engagement) and lots of editing!

Yesterday, I got to do a session with Lanie, a senior who just got accepted to her top choice school!  We had a great time and the photos are beautiful, thanks to a beautiful subject!

Then, today, I got a chance to hang out with Bridget & Matt to do an engagement shoot!  They were one of the most fun couples I've ever had the pleasure to photograph.  It was such a fun afternoon!

Check out my photography site for more from each of these shoots, and like Betsy Gettis Photography on Facebook!
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