Christmas Lights

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One of the Christmas traditions we enjoy is walking around and seeing Christmas lights.  Ryan and I enjoyed our time celebrating with friends Friday night.  The festivities including good food (fondue per Zapp family tradition), a white elephant gift exchange, Christmas lights and warm beverages afterward.  Take some time to enjoy the beauty of the holidays with family and friends.  Merry Christmas everyone!

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Labor Day Weekend

It’s Labor Day Monday and we are celebrating today with chocolate chip cookies and a bbq with friends.  Ryan did have to go in to work for a few hours this morning because the radio doesn’t stop on holidays.  Thank you to everyone who still labors on Labor Day!  But for us it still feels like a holiday even if it isn’t the same as the Labor Days I remember growing up.

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Growing up in Sacramento, Labor Day marked two big events.  It was the last weekend of the California State Fair but more importantly it was Jones Gulch Family Camp weekend.  Jones Gulch was in the Zapp family DNA.  We attended this dance camp every year when I was growing up but before that my mother grew up dancing over Labor Day Weekend and my grandparents even danced at this camp before they were married.  (A Zapp family reader can correct me if I’m wrong:-)  And before you get the wrong idea, this wasn’t hiphop, street dance camp.  This was Contra dancing, Line Dancing, Square Dancing and other forms that leant themselves to string bands that you might hear at a country fair.  I remember being dragged around the dance floor before I was even tall enough to link elbows with the adults.

Jones Gulch also always had a theme and it set the mood for the entire weekend.  Over the years I got to dress up as a renaissance princess, little orphan Annie, Vanna White and a cone head just to name a few.  And as kids we explored and played games all over the beautiful camp grounds in the Santa Cruz mountains.  We swam, climbed the rock wall, did archery and enjoyed ourselves during the day. And at night we sang songs around the campfire, did memorable skits and then danced the night away.

Although Jones Gulch dance camp has faded with the older generation, the memories remain.  Happy Labor Day everyone!

Lent and Remembering

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting and remembering.  Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the season leading up to Easter.  Lent is a time of preparation and I love having tangible reminders of the meaning of this sweet season.  Ultimately Easter, Resurrection Sunday, is a joyous and celebratory time.  But from my perspective, the celebration is enhanced if we truly understand why we are celebrating.  Unless we understand the reality and impact of Christ’s death on the cross, we will never fully internalize and therefore don’t fully celebrate the resurrection.  I could write more but I think this article Why Lent Still Matters does a great job explaining this concept more fully.

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In our home, Ryan and I are starting new traditions so that we can remember and humble ourselves during this time.  To help us get into this mindset, we will be using candles and specific readings.  We enjoyed lighting candles and doing readings for the Advent season.  So in this same spirit, instead of lighting candles, we will be blowing out candles.  We have seven candles lit this week and on each Sunday we will put out another candle until the last candle will be blown out on Good Friday.  The gradual move to darkness mimics the darkening in our hearts as we understand and contemplate Christ’s death on the cross.  It’s an opportunity for us to examine ourselves and our own hearts, while at the same time getting to know our savior more intimately.

Of course Lent, Advent or any other church season or holiday are not requirements of faith or salvation.  But as it is stated over 100 times in the old testament, remember.  Remembering is sometimes difficult when we have work, family, life, ministry, entertainment, friends, etc. all vying for our attention.  Just going to church on Sunday isn’t usually enough for me, I want to be reminded of the gospel daily.  Our Christian history is a wonderful tool that we can use to remember.  Celebrating Lent is just one of those ways to benefit from the rich tradition we have.  Whether or not you celebrate Lent this year, if you are a Christian I would challenge you to find ways to remember and prepare your hearts in anticipation of Resurrection Sunday.  We have 6 weeks so let’s remember.

Travel and Prayer

This weekend Ryan and I will be doing a quick overnight trip to Sacramento.  We are looking forward to our Saturday tree cutting tradition with my mom’s side of the family.  The cousins, aunts and uncles are coming from as far as Las Vegas to be together for this annual celebration.  What began as tree cutting and an Italian meal for my mother and her siblings during their childhood has continued and morphed into our tree cutting in Placerville.  Ryan and I announced our engagement last year at this event and now this will be our first tree cutting as a married couple.  We look forward to family time and homemade raviolis:-)

Please pray for traveling mercies.  We are flying up to Sacramento today and will be flying back on Saturday evening.  It’s a quick turnaround but the time with family is precious.  This picture was taken at tree cutting last year.  It’s the closest thing we have to an engagement photo and I love it.  Thanks Randy!

IMG_2527Despite our excitement for the weekend, we also have burdened hearts for family and friends who are currently going through some major health problems.  From possible malaria to a couple people with critical heart conditions, cancer and the list continues.  We know that Jesus hears our prayers and knows our hearts.  Please pray for healing, comfort for the families, wisdom for the doctors and for God to be at work in each of these situations.  Even without names or details, God knows who and how the prayers should be directed.  Please take a moment to pray for our family and friends who, instead of fighting for life and health, would much rather be enjoying their families and celebrating during this holiday season.

The 6th Annual Sunrise Hike

IMG_0213I almost never see the sunrise.  This mostly is due to the fact that I do my best not to wake up before sunrise but sometimes this is easier said than done.  My dear husband on the other hand is up and out of the house by 4:30am 6 days a week so getting up at 4:30 to watch the sunrise on a Saturday morning is sleeping in for him.

IMG_02176 years ago he took a group of people up a mountain to enjoy the sunrise after daylight savings time in the spring.  It was a hit so he has kept up the tradition.  And this year I married into it.  I, of course, had the choice of just sleeping in but a lovely hike is always enticing.

IMG_0216Some years the group has been large but this year it was just 4 of us.  This wasn’t surprising to me since waking up extra early on Saturday mornings isn’t exactly a top to-do on many people’s weekend list.  And this year the top of the mountain was very windy so we all huddled up against the cold and used the rocks as wind breakers.  Despite the wind it was still beautiful.

IMG_0220Seeing the sun poke over the top of the hill was quite satisfying.  Especially since it took a lot of effort and hiking in the dark to get to our lookout perch.  And the sky turned a very nice burnt orange.

IMG_0227But it didn’t take long for the sun to be fully up and too bright to look directly into.  Those minutes leading up to the sunrise seem to take forever but once the sun hits the horizon, it seems to move rather quickly up towards its place in the sky.

IMG_0228The hike back down the mountain was uneventful and it was fun for me to see the area in the light since the view coming up the mountain was covered in darkness.  Despite the early time this was a great way to start a Saturday morning.  But i’m still thankful that it only happens once a year.