Friday, December 31, 2010

A Letter to 2010

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day. ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

It's a little distracting to write this evening, but I felt like I ought to bid 2010 adieu in proper blogger form. Oh... what a year it has been! And boy did it fly by so quickly. Lots of changes, new experiences, intrapersonal growth, interpersonal discoveries, new understandings of God's Word, challenges, goodbyes, victories, and all sorts of fun.

I'm going to write a little letter to this year-- yes it isn't a person, nor a tangible thing.. but sometimes personalization is good. It's the grown up form of "pretend." :) Tonight its purpose is not only just for the heck of it but also as a way to create closure and allow for a fresh beginning...
Two thousand and ten, my friend, you've been alright. You could have been better but I won't complain-- I enjoyed all your seasons... the crisp cool Winter months, the beautiful Spring flowers, delightful warm Summer days, and the vivid Fall colors... yes you were a pretty one.
I loved those days of being immersed in the nature. I thoroughly enjoyed running through the rain, feeling the sun beat on my back, and breathing it all in. I loved those quiet moments of being outside. Just me, God and His perfect creation. Two thousand and ten, you had some wondrous quiet moments.
When possible, I also loved taking pictures of your colors. God made you a beauty. No doubt about that!
Yes, you were good yet I think you were truly the epitome of "tough love." The lessons I learned through you were not always pleasant but they surely had their benefits. As we circled around the earth, one day at a time, I gradually found my voice and finally discovered more of my individuality. Fighting through the battles of anxiety... I made it. A breakthrough that seemed so impossible years ago. It's been a long journey, through many ups and downs, but I finally made it... without drugs or superficial forms of help... I conquered that part of myself naturally and through many many hours of hard work. Sweet victory. Only by God's grace was I ever able to get this far-- He allowed me to never give up.

Because of that, I can finally stand on my own two feet.

Two thousand and ten, you were an ironic one at that. In your year, I witnessed one of my dearest role models recover from falling twice. She refused to give up though the road to being strong again seemed so out of reach. It would have been easy to let go of the strings of life, but she didn't. Though she couldn't physically stand on her two feet, her spirit could. God gave her the strength she needed to keep moving on. I am so grateful.

Dearest two thousand and ten, you taught me a lot in so many areas of life... and you also had some good changes. I discovered the joys of networking and substituting. I was surprised with how much I liked substituting. I loved how it helped me smooth the rough edges in my teaching. Not only that but I realized from substituting how much I am meant for teaching-- that's what I'm meant to do.

In addition, this year I finally chose a grad school and started it in August. That same month I unexpectedly got a part-time job at a lovely little store... all from walking in with my mom and saying "it must be fun to work here!" This retail job couldn't have come at a better time-- I was so worried and stressed at that point. I thought the springs were going to dry up, but thankfully, God did not allow them to. Instead they were filled to more than what I needed. Everything was okay and peaceful...

Oh year, you were something. You really were. You had great big moments and wonderful little ones as well. For all those times, good and bad... and somewhere in between, I am so blessed. I'm thankful for the sadness, anger, laughter, tears, cheers, and all the other emotions I experienced. Sometimes exhausting and sometimes uplifting. It was all worth it.

A favorite time of the year was without a doubt the football season. I will never forget the feeling of winning over the tyrant, the Crusaders. What a wonderfully perfect night. The victory was amazing but what I will remember the most was the oneness with the team and the supporting crowd. We were one- it didn't matter who was there, as long as they were there to cheer on the Warriors. And at the end we all met on the field where the win happened. All of us together.

The sentiment was the same at the best game ever, the state championship game: the Warriors versus the Timberwolves. I didn't care who I sat next to-- it didn't matter...the only thing that did matter was that I was sitting next to a fellow Warrior fan. We were all in that game together-- a true community. Particularly in that game, I won't forget how focused the team was and the crowd's enthusiasm. I knew from the moment I got to my seat that we could totally win. And from the first play I could sense it: focus. We weren't going to lose to the Wolves twice... no, this was our title.. This was our time. And so it was. I would go back to that day any day.

The only thing is if I went back to that day I would have to experience the feeling of bittersweet. One part of that day I won't forget is the sweetness and sadness. The state game was the last game for the senior football players. Such a grand way to leave the season-- a mark that will be forever in the school's history. However, it is also the end of a glorious era.. those boys will never play together again. All those years, from youth football to then... all those years of being together are over. Bittersweet. If I had to go back to that day, which I would, I would have to feel that little ache in my heart for all those boys. I know that bittersweet feeling all too well... the happiness of accomplishment and the pain of it being all over....

Oh, two thousand and ten, it is good to look back on all that we've experienced together.

I'm so glad for the times with my family and friends. For the random people that have crossed through my life. For that hand I held. For all those hugs and smiles throughout the year. For all those firsts and lasts...

Two thousand and ten, I know I could write about you for quite awhile. After all, we've been through 365 days... Twelve months. January 1st to December 31st. We are coming to an end. Only a few more hours left.

From sunrise to sunset, you were good.

Now to move on and to prepare the way for a brand new year. My new friend, Two thousand and eleven.

Thank you again, two thousand and ten for all that you taught me. I've learned lessons in humility, patience, and perseverance. I will never forget you and will carry your memories in my heart.
Welcome two thousand and eleven, welcome... I am ready to start fresh.
Blessings to all of you. I pray that this New Year brings you joyful times and strength in the difficult ones. :) Cheers!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Reason for the Season

This is sort of a Part 2 to my previous post... I feel it is important to share these beautiful song lyrics with all of you. Whenever I would hear this song on the radio, it would instantly hit me as to why we have this beautiful Christmas season. I so needed that profound reminder this season. I'm embarrassed and frustrated to admit that I have not given God as much as my time in thinking about His amazing miracle as I should...

Christmas is about Jesus. That precious little baby boy that came into this world and would one day grow up to be the ultimate sacrifice for mankind-- He was the One to make it so that we can have a friendship with God... He's the One who shed His pure and innocent blood so that we could be made right with our Creator.

Hard to even put it all into words. Thank goodness for amazing songs. The song "You're Here" by Francesca Battistelli really made me think. It explains the purpose of Jesus' birth and His life through Mary's perspective. Totally hits home. You can listen to the song on YouTube (the link should go straight to music video of the song). Here are the lyrics:

Hold on now, I gotta take a deep breath
I don’t know what to say when I look in your eyes
You made the world before I was born
Here I am holding You in my arms tonight

Noel, Noel Jesus our Emmanuel

You’re here
I’m holding You so near
I’m staring into the face of my Savior King and Creator
You could’ve left us on our own
But You’re here

Don’t know how long I’m gonna have You for
But I’ll be watching when You change the world
Look at Your hands, they’re still so small
Someday You’re gonna stretch them out and save us all

Noel, Noel, God with us Emmanuel

You’re here, I’m holding You so near
I’m staring into the face of my Savior King and Creator
You could’ve left us on our own
But You’re here, You’re here

Someday I’m gonna look back on this
The night that God became a baby boy
Someday You’re gonna go home again,
But You leave your spirit and flood the world with joy

You’ll be here, I’m holding You so near
I’m staring into the face of my Savior, King and Creator
You could’ve left me on my own, but You’re here… You’re here

Hallelujah, You’re here
Hallelujah, You’re here


Well, the holiday season has certainly bustled along. Hard to believe that Christmas has already happened and the glow of the season is coming to an end.

It's been different this season-- not bad but, truthfully, crazy. I have been working about 30 hours a week at my part-time retail job (oh the joys!) and so it has been challenging to find those quiet peaceful Christmas moments. I am very thankful for my job, as it has saved me financially in some ways, but the downside is that it has taken up lots of precious time. Oh well. I don't want to complain but more or less just state the facts-- that's just the negative side of having a retail job. ha... In addition to dealing with extremely rude customers ;-)

And the big but I have to remember is this: life will not always be this way. Not every Christmas season will be this way. Most of all, I need to remember that God gave me this part-time job to help cover expenses (in addition to substituting) so that I don't have to worry. He knows how much I worry about the finances. Because he knows what I need, He provides. For that, I am incredibly grateful.

That's the reality that I need to focus on. If you couldn't tell by my tone of writing already, it will be no surprise when I say that is has been difficult to remember His provision. I feel like I have been floating from one day to the next. It's good to live one day at a time but I think it's nice when they don't all blur together. Don't we all?

Anyway, on to something better than my yammering... Christmas was delightful! My family and I stayed overnight from Christmas Eve to Christmas morning with Granny. We have been doing this tradition for years. In addition to this tradition, we have a certain meal prior to going to Granny's church in the evening: we have chicken noodle and lentil soup (those are the choices), saltines, usually some fruit slices, Granny's delicious ribbon salad, and then cookies when we're all done. Yum! For the past two years I have had a major craving for Granny's ribbon salad.. it is sooooo good.

Church was extra enjoyable this year-- two of my aunts and their husbands came down, as did two cousins and the one cousin's husband. Needless to say, we took up an entire pew! And as usual, there was lots of chuckles throughout the service. We always get each other laughin'! It was particularly hard not to burst out hysterically when the choir sang at the wrong time. When the pastor spoke after the little mix-up he said, "Christmas is full of surprises!" haha So good.

After church, my family and I went back to Granny's place. We snacked some, attempted to recite the "Night Before Christmas," read some of her Christmas letters/cards, and watched the Yule log burn on TV. Somehow we managed to stay up past midnight. Santa had to come a lil bit later to her place ;-)

Christmas Day was delightful!! We looked through the goodies in our stockings and then opened Granny's presents. We had our substitute sweet rolls (Granny couldn't make her own sweet rolls this year due to recovering from her second break), which were thankfully pretty good. We enjoyed the morning and then eventually packed everything up to head north.

Around 4pm, we went up to my aunt and uncle's house for dinner. There were quite a few family members there so it was a blast. We all ate lots of good food, chatted with each other, laughed lots, drank some wine, opened presents, munched on a variety of sweets... Oh yes, and we popped poppers! haha Yes, at the end of dinner we all linked our pop-its together (they are the kind with the mini toys inside) and burst 'em open. Inside the poppers were tissue crowns, which we all proceeded to wear and look goofy. :)

Once the festivities at my aunt and uncle's house winded down, my family and I heading down the street to our house. We then opened our stockings and exchanged presents with each other. I'll be writing about some of my favorite items I recieved in another post!

Ah... wonderful Christmas. I hope that you all had a great day celebrating with your loved ones. Enjoy the last few days of 2010...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Warriors Win it All

Twelve days later, I'm finally writing about this great event... While I feel incredibly lazy these days when it comes to writing, I don't want 2010 to pass by without recording this magnificient moment in time.

On December 11th, I had the priviledge to see the hometown high school football team play in the state championship game. The Warriors (us) versus the Timberwolves.

Oh, it was glorious. Absolutely.

The game was held at one of the big state universities. Crowds upon crowds of people came to support both teams. Parents, teachers, people from the community, alumni, and many others came to witness the big game.

The stakes were high. Both teams had played each other before. The Warriors lost against the Timberwolves the first time. Would they be able to win against them? That is the question we all were anxious to answer. Not only was it a rematch, and for a big title, but the Warriors have never had a state championship title. Yes, for the 42 years that my old high school has been established, it has never won a state championship game. For many many years, my alma mater has been the "loser school." In the past, the football team had an embarrassing history of losing. This negative attitude of losing carried not only through the sports but within the student body. A big contributer to this attitude also has to do with the type of student population. Most of the area is low to middle class, which means that the school lacks in good financial support. Basically, it has been a sad constant cycle for years. As a result, the school just has not had a very good reputation within the community.

Until recently. There have been some great changes. I would love to know where it all started.

I was so amazed when I went to the first football game of the season. There was actually a real student body cheering section. A complete 180 from when I went to school. And of course, our football team has been hugely uplifting. It is amazing what football can do for a community...
After waiting in crowded lines to get through the gates, Mom, my sister and I got good seats with only one row in front of us (and fairly close to the front too). I enjoyed seeing everyone and anyone who came to support the team.

Once the clock started, we took part of the constant cheering and shouting to encourage the guys on the field. I had a surge of anxiety rushing through my body as I saw those players clash together... but oh the joy and relief that came with the first touchdown.

As time got closer to half time, the score was 24 to 0. We were ahead. The Warrior student body yelled the great chant, "I. I believe. I believe that. I believe that we. I believe that we will WIN! I believe that we will WIN! I believe that we will WIN!" That went along with jumping up and down and holding one finger up (as in #1). The student body got the Warrior crowd all fired up and we too were chanting the "I believe" cheer. I believe.

The seconds wound down with much intensity... and so it was the official score going into halftime. We did it. We were ahead.

The game after halftime was a challenge to watch. Could we continue to hold off the Timberwolves with our defense? Honestly, I felt like watching the last half with one eye open! There was a low point in the game when the Timberwolves scored two touchdowns within 14 seconds. Our team had messed up a little and slightly lost their focus. But then... it all came back and they somehow found their energy. I think the home team crowd revved up again and that helped them to feel encouraged. After that slight setback, I think it shocked everyone's system-- made us remember how badly we wanted this win. This was OUR time. Our time to change the history.

The last quarter in a half are kind of a blur in my mind. What I do remember is that the hometeam defense worked their tail off to keep the Timberwolves from scoring again. I think at one point we caught the Timberwolves' fumble and were able to march the ball down the field. All I know is that we made a few more touchdowns. I high fived the hands of the people in front of me and yelled like crazy. Ohhhh how I wanted to win. We wanted to win.

At the end of the 4th quarter, the dream came true,.. Finishing the game with one more touchdown, we had it. We won the State Championship Title, 34 to 13. I will never forget those last three seconds when the hometeam crowd counted down together, "3... 2... 1.... 0" And wow, let the celebrations begin!!!
It was glorious seeing the football team get awarded the Metro League and State Championship trophies. After they were presented with the awards, the crowd rushed onto the field. Just like all the other games, the crowd gathered around the team at the endzone. Such a wonderful moment.

I never want to forget that experience. I loved every minute of it. I couldn't be prouder of my old high school!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Positive Product Changes

I have been feeling discouraged lately at my lack of improvement in having a more simple and natural lifestyle. There are so many more changes I would like to make! Instead of dwelling on the long list of things I would like to change, I'm going write about a few product changes I have made this year.
  • All Natural Makeup: In January, my mom took me to an all-natural cosmetic store to get some new makeup (as an early birthday gift). This is a store that my cousin, Simply Authentic, went to for her makeup when she still lived here. I had a wonderful experience picking out two eyeshadow colors, an eyeliner pencil, concealer, foundation and mascara. It is now the beginning of December and I am no where near running out of any of these products. I don't wear makeup on a regular basis, but when I do it is nice to have natural products. They're easy to put on, look much better than the non-natural brands, and are so easy to take off (water is all you need!). The only downside of natural products like this is that they are pretty expensive. But I figure, the expense of having natural products is much better than putting my health at risk and paying a much larger expense later on. If you're interested, most of my makeup is from a brand called Alima Pure.
  • Burt's Bees Shampoo, Conditioner & Body Wash: Starting earlier this year, I also switched over to natural bathing products. For years I have used Bath and Body Works products and Pantene Pro-V for my hair. This year I decided that enough was enough-- so I gave these natural products a try and loved them! These are also fairly spendy too but from time to time I find coupons in the ads. As a matter of fact I have a coupon tacked to my bulletin board. I go through conditioner fast and will be needing some soon!
  • Larabars: I also discovered a better snack choice this year! These types of bars replace the chemical-loaded protein bars I used to eat. These natural bars are a great replacement and have few ingredients, which you will see in the picture on the very bottom. The Cherry Pie flavor is good, but my favorite one is Apple Pie. :)

Now that I am writing about some of my changes, I am starting to remember a few more that I have made. I'll just write another blog in the next day or so! I have to get ready now for a football game, our home-team made it to the semi-final games of the playoffs. Pretty exciting!

Monday, November 29, 2010

My November Summary

I'm following my cousin's lead and finally writing about the events of November. I have sort of dropped off the edge of the earth this month. As usual, it's due to work, school, and the busyness of life. From the few blogs I have been able to read, as of recently, it seems as though many are in the "November Slump."

There just hasn't been motivation to write these days. Not sure why but I suppose that's a result of my brain not having a chance to really settle. I also don't like writing when I don't feel coherent! I've mulled several things over but then I just can't seem to get them out. Oh well... it all comes together at some point.

Anyway, I'll sort of summarize what this month has been like (sorry cousin, the list thing is my style too so this post is going to be similar to yours, though differing in a few events!):
  • Granny Fell Again-- 3 months later: Sadly, Granny fell again on November 11th. She was getting ready for the day, and at some point became lightheaded and fell down, breaking her other femur. Granny was alone in her home, but thankfully she was able to grab the emergency cord for help. I remember Mom telling me the news and feeling so sad for Granny. She had improved so much after her first fall, she was just getting used to a cane. Unfortunately though, she is kind of back to square one again like the first time. She went through the same surgery for her new break, but with less issues from the anesthesia. Thankfully, the recovery has been much faster this time around. She's also had an appetite and was able to get into a rehab center quickly. Last Sunday I was able to visit her with my Mom. So encouraging to see how she's doing! Let me tell you, that woman refuses to quit on life! God has given her so much strength of mind, body, and spirit. She's 99, never had major surgery or trauma until this point in her life... and yet, nothing stops her. I feel so blessed and humbled to have such a godly example in my life. I love her dearly.
  • Favorite Substitute Moment Thus Far: On the 18th, I subbed for a teacher at my favorite school (for her 2nd grade class). During the morning, just when I got the class transitioned to reading time, a student spotted a beautiful vibrant rainbow outside. Of course, the entire class had to rush to the window and see the stunning sight. I couldn't resist either-- so for a couple of minutes the class and I "ooohhhed" and "awwwed" at the gorgeous rainbow. I loved standing at the window with 22 kids beside me chatting away. They were captivated. So was I. Such a peaceful, beautiful moment. I most definitely was praising God for that time! That is a moment I will treasure in my heart forever. And it taught me to give kids time to just be kids. :)
  • Thanksgiving: Had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family. This year our gathering was quite small-- only 10 of us total: Granny, two cousins (plus the husband of one), my aunt and uncle, my sister, mom and dad. For once, I think we all had a complete conversation with whomever we talked with. haha Not typical but just perfect! The food was delicious, the time together was relaxing, and the laughter was abundant. So much to be thankful for!
  • First Ever November Christmas Tree: While it isn't a huge event, it most certainly must be noted that this is the first year that we have gotten our Christmas tree in November. Since I'm working until-the-cows-go-home in December, we had to take advantage of the 28th- my last Sunday off of work for awhile. Mom, Sarah, her boyfriend and I found a good tree and hauled it home on Vanna White. Now our house is decorated from head-to-toe, as is the outside! It's fun and yet somewhat amazing that the holidays are here.
  • Learning the Art of Patience: I think I'm understanding more of why God blessed me with my little part-time job... As of now, He is teaching me what it means to be truly patient. Honestly, my patience is only good when it comes to teaching children or being around them. The more I work at this job, the more I realize how impatient I really am. It's a tough lesson to learn and I have a long ways to go in improving that part of myself. And the only way to do that is through lots of prayer and reading His Word! And a few deep breaths here and there... ;-)
So... I think that concludes the important parts of November, if you're interested. haha I hope and pray that all of you have been blessed this season, and that the Christmas Season will be even better!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thinkin' About Sunday...

It's Wednesday evening and I'm just thinking about this past Sunday. I had a really good day that day. I spent half of it hanging out with my dear friend Joy. I finally got to go to her church, which is located in the northwest part of downtown.

We weren't able to carpool to church because she had some errands she needed to do later in the day. However, that was fine because this suburban chick is getting better at driving in the city... And for kicks, since I was driving in the city, I had to listen to my country music. For some reason whenever I go down there I feel compelled to do so. Guess it's my inner "fight" between country and city love. Anyway...

I followed Joy on a back road up and over some hills and through some foggy patches. The road allowed us to sneak into sleepy Sunday morning downtown. We entered its back doors through a lush green hallway, created by tall overgrown trees that stretched across the road. As we came down a small hill, the city greeted us with the familiar sight of the waterfront and its big bridges. Though it was a gray day, it was just fine. Loved the coziness and chilliness of the fall day. Good for church-going Sunday :)

Before going to church we spent time enjoying each other's company at a chic coffee/bakery shop. I had some hot chocolate and a large almond flavored scone. Yum! Joy and I were quite humored with our pastries-- though they were delicious they were incredibly messy. We had pastry flakes all over the place. The messiness was worth it though, I loved my scone and it was completely devoured.

While talking, sippin' on our drinks, and eating our pastries, I was entertained with the people that would pass by the big glass windows. A dog park was nearby so people often walked past with their pooches. At one point a dog owner went into one of the shops and left their dog tied up to a tree. I was quite amused watching the dog wait for its owner. There were quite a few leaves around and its tail collected a few. When he/she would wag their tail, the leaves would sway in the wind. I have a feeling the owner probably had to "de-leaf" their dog later on.

After our time in the coffee shop, Joy and I meandered our way over to her church. We got there in plenty of time and I had an opportunity to meet some people. I was happy to see an old youth leader from a church I went to for a good portion of my life.

The church service was very good. At first I was a little unsure of some things but then as the service progressed I relaxed. The sermon was really neat-- feel like I was meant to be there to hear what the pastor said. Recently, I read a Romans 3:21-31, which talks about Christ's punishment for us and what it means to have faith (and in regards to the law). The pastor used Galatians 3 when he was talking about the difference between being religious versus truly living a life centered around the Gospel. I was thrilled when he was talking because of the connection with the section of Romans that I had read. I had been thinking about Romans 3 for quite sometime. One of those chapters that percolated in my brain... and it was a total "aha!" moment when the pastor was talking. So uplifting! I think I'll write a post specifically about that soon but I need some time to mull it over in my mind.

When church was over I spent awhile meeting and greeting more lovely people. I met two really nice gals and talked with several other people. I felt like the church was very sincere and inclusive, which is very refreshing. Overall, the congregation is fairly young so its easier to relate to people. I was happy and impressed with how welcoming they were. I hope to go there again!

After yakkin' with people for awhile, Joy and I went out to lunch at a Mexican restaurant called "Cha Cha Cha!" We had delicious burritos for only about $5. Good deal! Yummmm...

We parted ways after lunch and I drove home feeling as though my whole body was smiling. My spirit felt encouraged, changed of scenery was delightful, and spending time with my childhood friend was precious. Thank you Lord for such a good day.

Days like that are so good the soul. If warmth itself could be packaged in a beautifully wrapped gift.. that's what those days are like. I think God gives us those days to bless us in the down times, to help us persevere. When days are dreary-- whether it be the seemingly endless raindrops that fall from the overly generous sky... or just times of feeling multiple shades of blue... We can reach inside ourselves and take hold of that gift and smile, knowing that not all days will be like this... and that surely, most surely, better days will come again.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's been awhile...

My head feels a little fuzzy as I write this post; my thoughts are sort of floating around. One of those evenings where thoughts are like sediment... Little particles floating along a slow moving current and settling down when they've finally reached the bottom...

I've considered writing a few different times since my post at the end of October. Honestly though, I just haven't been sure what to say- it's sort of the same old: busy with school and work. I'm just going with the flow and in the midst of all, finding some sweet moments too. Overall, I'm pretty content right now... and especially more so now that midterms are over. haha That was joyous ;-)

In the past week or two it has hit me that I chose the right grad school. For a good few weeks (and months prior to the semester starting), I felt like I was dragging my feet. I felt unsure of my decision and just didn't want anything to do with school. Now, I'm totally embracing it. I think it has helped that everyone is finally "clicking." What I mean is that it has taken a good half of the semester for the ice to really be broken with the individuals in my two classes. We all get along well and enjoy discussing with each other. However, it was not until about mid-term time that I felt like we all got into a rhythm. I suppose that's a natural pattern within a college class, but it felt very prominent this time. Perhaps it is because it's a whole new experience. New people and a new school. Whatever it is, I'm really enjoying school now. I look forward to seeing my classmates and getting to know them better. I'm also feeling like I'm growing a lot more as an educator, which is great!

As for work... I had the opportunity to substitute a total of four days last month at my favorite school. I feel very grateful to have gotten as many jobs as I have so far-- and at that school. :) I love substituting there because I'm treated with respect and I also know the school routine. Speaking of which, next week I will be subbing 3 days at the school so that will be good. I will be busier than a bee next week to say the least!

Hmm... what else... Oh yes, I had a very lovely experience dealing with a long-lasting cold virus for about two weeks. The most annoying part was the dry cough that kept lingering (even after my sinuses cleared up!). I also would think I was getting better but then my tonsils would flare up for the millionth time. I saw the doctor to make sure it wasn't something else and mainly because my mom begged me to go. She was just as annoyed with my cough! haha Thankfully though, I'm not coughing too much but it does come back every now and then. I'm crossing my fingers that my tonsils won't go nuts again. I took a Cold Eeze this morning as a precaution! Ah...

To end on a happy note, I think I will write some things I'm thankful for as of recently:

-- Granny is getting better all of the time. God has been so good!
-- Phone calls, texts, and fun times with friends
-- The Sundays where I've gotten to go to church
-- Egg nog and peppermint ice cream...
-- Good new songs from some of my favorite music artists
-- My part-time job and substituting; for the experience and income
-- Though it is a little stressful, I've been given a lot more responsibility in my PT job. What I'm thankful for is that my manager trusts me as much as she does and believes in my ability to accomplish tasks.
-- Being able to save my money a lot more than I was earlier this year... such a blessing!
-- Snuggly moments with my kitty
-- My reading time before I go to sleep; most nights I've been good about reading the Bible. I am so glad that God has helped me to say diligent in reading His Word. I'm getting closer to finishing the book of Psalms. I also just started Romans a few nights ago-- so excited to dig into that book again!
-- Feeling excited for March 2011, my cousin and her husband are moving back to Oregon. Though it feels like it has been a long time since I've seen her, it's also sort of hard to believe that it's been almost 2 years. Lots has happened in that time!

Alrighty... I think I will end there for tonight... Know this isn't the most exciting post I've ever written but at least ya know I'm alive. haha I hope to write some more inspiring/interesting things soon. For now, it's just good to update on life's happenings :) Hope you're all doing well!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Football & Mouse Housing

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all."
-Stanley Horowitz

This weekend has been delightful so far! It started with a football game on Friday...

On Friday night, the game determined whether or not we would win the 2010 Metro League Title... and WE DID! Yippie! Our football team has not had this title for 26 years. Talk about a long time waitin' for this moment. The game, unfortunately, was not as intense or exciting until the second half. I'm not sure what was going on in the first half but it looked like a pathetic soccer game (seriously both teams kept punting the ball back and forth!). There wasn't much tackling and our team looked disorganized.

Thank goodness for half time! ha. I think the coach had a serious talking to the team and boy... they came back good and strong! The last half of the game was exciting because it had momentum. Plus, the energy of the crowd picked up and we all were geared up to be the champions. Awesome night! And thankfully too, Friday night was blessed with perfect fall weather: cool, dry and foggy. Pretty lucky because Thursday and Saturday are sandwiching in Friday with the classic 'ol Pacific Northwest rain.

Today's activities consisted of "mouse housing" with mom. We have used that term for years and years. Mom says she got it from a children's book or so she thinks. Anyway, when we go "mouse housing" it means that we're going to gather fun little things... usually decorations or craft project items. Sometimes it's clothes, but today crafty things. The first place mom and I went to was a place called Smith Berry Barn, out in the country. It's a cute little barn that sells all sorts of fun house goodies (though somewhat spendy). Once and awhile we find a few treasures there. Today we just got some gift items for a few people. Glad we got to help out a local country shop!

Afterwards we went to Target, then mom stopped in at Joann's Fabric Store, and then we did grocery shopping. Brought the grocery items home, regrouped and had dinner at Sweet Tomatoes... and then ended the day with Michael's and Craft Warehouse. Whew! haha All fun though even in the cool dark and slightly dreary day. Good day to be occupied with mouse housing!

From all that I managed to only spend $9. I bought a small gift item for a friend and then got a candle warmer. My room is smelling like pumpkin spice now... mmm mmmm...

Think I'll have a snack now, relax and then get bed... have to get up a little early tomorrow for a short work meeting. Hoping to get some homework done tomorrow afternoon so that I can have fun in the evening. :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fire Trees

Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile.
--William Cullen Bryant

I was on an errand this afternoon and had to take a picture of these gorgeous trees. I think they're maple; I've nicknamed them "fire trees."

(Yes I know, my posts these days are a bit redundant but I absolutely LOVE God's creation-- I am quite fascinated by seasonal changes. I love how He has given each season its own personality.)

Hope you all had a good fall day! I'll be writing more this weekend...


Monday, October 25, 2010

A Minnie Moment

Last night when I was reading the Bible my kitty, Minnie was begging to come in my room. She came in at the time when I was reading Psalm 104, which has beautiful nature illustrations to describe God's power.

After she got all cozy next to me, I read aloud this verse, "O Lord, what a variety of things You have made! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your creatures." (24)

Funny thing is after I read that she snuggled up even closer to me. haha I'm so glad God made cats-- they're great companions!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Beautiful Fall Skies

"The heavens are Yours, and the earth is Yours; everything in the world is Yours-- You created it all." --Psalm 89:11

As I said in the last post, I would share some of the pictures I have taken of the gorgeous fall sky. These pictures were taken in the past week from my house all on the same glorious evening. Enjoy :)

Almost makes you crave sorbet huh?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Blessings, Confessions & A Funny Story

This is post goes along with my previous one, "Friday to Friday." All of these events happened within that time period and I think they're good to share. :)

--My uncle fixed my computer on Monday night. The power supply had given out but thankfully he had an extra one he could use to fix it. After he got my computer up and running he scanned it for viruses and other things. I feel very fortunate to have my computer back! I also got it just in time so that I could finish my midterm on it, which was great. I prefer to work on my bigger screen than our mini-notebook.

--I have thoroughly been enjoying the beautiful fall days here. We've had many days where the mornings are chilly but then the afternoons are in the 70's. Beautiful blue skies with pretty cirrus clouds. It's made for some glorious sunsets as well. *I'll post some of those pictures on here tomorrow if I remember!* Unfortunately, we are into the true fall weather as of today: wind and rain. This weekend is supposed to be kind of stormy. Looking out the window now I can see some dark clouds passing by...

--I feel so thankful to have been subbing so much! I am enjoying being a teacher again :)

--I have had the urge to shop recently... I haven't gotten overboard or anything but it always bothers me when all I want to do is shop, shop, shop! When mom and I went to Fred Meyer the other day I went with the intention to pick up my Burt's Bees shampoo and conditioner (which I did btw). We didn't have much time to shop because we needed to pick up my sister from her job. Despite the time though, I still managed to walk away with my Burt's Bees products in a new cute black purse! haha The good news is that the purse was on sale and I spent less than $20 for it. I've been looking for a new purse for quite some time because I have been using the same one for about two years. So... I suppose in some ways it is a valid purchase.

--And the shopping continues... ahhh.. I'm most likely going to order the burgundy version of the skirt I bought at Forever 21 a couple weeks ago. The horrible thing is I haven't had a chance to wear the teal colored one yet but I have this compelling "want" (not need!) to get the burgundy one. I guess it's because I have a cute outfit in mind and that color would look nice. *sigh*

--Guess the only thing going for me with this temptation is that I am conscious of how much money I'm spending. So while I am buying a few new things, I'm at least not breaking the bank. haha

A Funny Story:
--On Monday when I subbed for first grade, the students were supposed to complete several worksheets while I met with reading groups. One of the worksheets asked them to match the correct short "o" word with the corresponding picture. Like the other worksheets, I modeled how to complete them and made sure the students knew the instructions. Anyway, one student must have struggled with finding the word pop to go along with the picture of a pop can... She ended up writing "bere" under that picture! haha I saw her worksheet after reading groups and tried to explain the instructions again. Apparently, she didn't change her answer because at the end of the day the classroom teacher called me into her room (and the principal happened to be in the hall too so he came in).. and then she showed the worksheet and was cracking up. The principal thought it was hysterical! "Watch out for that sub!" haha I think that story spread like wildfire down through the primary wing. ;-)
Alrighty, now I better get ready for the rest of the day!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday to Friday

I'm finally catching a nice quiet moment... Ahh... I'm enjoying having some space to myself and being able to listen to some relaxing music. I have missed not writing as much this month since it has been so crazy. Oh well, such is life huh? Makes me more thankful for this lovely evening (besides the fact that I'm trying to fight off potential cold symptoms!).

Since I feel like this past week, Friday to Friday has been a blur I am just going to list things by days.

--Last Friday: Went to the epic football game with our home team against the private school. That was a great start to the weekend!

--Saturday: Saw the movie "Legends of the Guardians." Very good by the way! I was very impressed with the graphics. Plus, the owls were oh so cute. The story line was good as well :)

--Sunday: Went to see my friend Jennifer play handbells at her church. I've been wanting to see her play for months now. Finally had an opportunity to do that, which was very fun. I also really enjoyed her church too. I loved how they played hymns and contemporary songs-- I think that's a good combination. I like hymns because they are usually pretty convicting, which causes me to think a lot. At her service they played "My Only Crown (Fairest Lord Jesus)." I love how it uses nature to convey the greatness of Jesus and His amazing power. Here are the lyrics...

Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature,
O Thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
Thou, my soul's glory, joy and crown.

Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.

Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
Now and forever more be Thine.

What I thought about most as I sang this hymn was, "Is Jesus TRULY my soul's joy and crown?" Certainly makes you think about life's priorities. That question stuck with me all week.

Monday: I ended up substituting all day at my favorite elementary school. I subbed in the morning for the 1st grade teacher, which was a blast. All of the kids in her class were from the class I student taught in last year. It was so nice that they saw me as a teacher and were respectful. Of course, that was a the morning too. And as I've experienced, the it is much easier to sub in the mornings than the afternoons! haha It's amazing how the energy level changes after lunch. This is more so for if you sub for one class all day. My guess is though this is a general pattern whether or not there is a substitute. Anyway, as soon as I finished my morning job, my mentor teacher asked me if I was available to sub for her in the afternoon. So I ended up teaching her kinders! At first I felt sort of out of rhythm with how to do everything but then it all came back as the day went on. :)

Tuesday: Just had class in the evening-- miraculously I was able to get my take home midterm done for it too. That was one of the hardest tests I've done in a long time! Yucky linguistics stuff. Glad to have that behind me now!

Wednesday: Worked at my part-time job. It felt strange to be back there because I hadn't worked for a week. I'm glad I got to see the changes in the store and get caught up with my manager.

Thursday: I subbed again and at my favorite school! :) This time I was in a 1st/2nd grade split. The class was pretty challenging in terms of behavior. Thankfully I knew most of the kids from subbing last year and from my mentor's kindergarten class. We all made it through the day somehow! Even through the firedrill... oh boy. haha That's one thing you learn from teaching: sometimes all you can do is just go with the flow!

Friday (today!): Today has been my day to unwind. Thank goodness. I could feel one of my tonsils acting up yesterday, which had me a little concerned. This morning when I woke up I definitely felt like I had the beginnings to a cold. In hopes of fighting it off I've been sucking on Cold-Eeze and drinking Airborne. I'm planning on getting into bed after I finish this post, read a little bit and then crash. I'm going to visit a friend and my Granny this weekend so I don't want to be feeling miserable. Crossing my fingers that the natural remedies do the trick! ;-)

Hope you all are doing well and staying healthy! I need to catch up all my blog reading one of these days!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Remember the Warriors

Pounding hearts, stomping feet, clapping hands, "ooohs and ahhss"... and "noooo's!"... Cheers of encouragement, tense muscles, jumping up and down, anticipation, suspense, clinking of helmets and cleats, bumping shoulder pads, pain, relief, anger, joy, sweat, tears, cameras, lights, face paint, cheerleaders, fans of all kinds, news reporters,.. All of this was wrapped up in a perfect cold fall night; a package called hope. Hope that on Friday night history would be made. This hope was truly visible, just like the clouds of breath floating upwards into the night... This was our time and we all believed it.

And it was. Last night the high school I went to finally won a football game over the metro league's most despised player, the Crusaders (they're a private school-- which always dominates every sport). It has been 25 years since we have had victory over them. We didn't win by a small amount either. Score was 38 to 25 :)

So many people came to see this game. There were scads of people everywhere. The stadium was packed and there were crowds of people all around the field. I wonder how many eyes were watching the game in anticipation.

The whole game was so exciting. Only in the first quarter did we ever have a tie with the Crusaders and then after that, we left them in the dust. It seemed as though the cheers of the home-team crowd carried the players from beginning to end. No kidding either. Every cheer was like a burst of energy and it gave them the strength they needed to keep persevering.

Mom, Sarah and I grabbed each other and leaped up whenever a touchdown was made. And then we would turn to each other and yell, "WE DID IT!" So much fun! So incredibly thrilling! The cheering experience was a whole body work out from my vocal cords all the way down to my legs.

When the clock got to the last few seconds the crowd counted down... 3... 2... 1... it was all over. We made history. In that moment, the entire stadium swarmed down onto the field-- like one massive large body of people. It wasn't chaotic either. Everyone moved so fluidly-- everyone wanted to be on that field where it all happened. That field where we all placed our hope and to touch the players that held our hearts. We all gathered around one of the end zones and the players huddled up together. It seemed as though everyone could have stayed there for hours and hours even despite the chilly air.

While we all could have celebrated on that field all night, we all had to go home. However, the scoreboard stayed lit up throughout the night...

Usually I don't get emotional nor overboard for a football game (or many sports in general besides the Olympics or Cross Country)... but last night was captivating. Anyone would have been sucked into the game! That ride on the coattails of hope was spectacular. I'm so glad I was there.
The most dangerous is a true believer... *
*Written on a gym wall in my old high school.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Fall Moment in His Design

Yes, today is a two post day!

When I got done with my run today, I came inside to grab some water and then I got my phone too. Then I went and sat on the deck to stretch. I'm so glad I had my phone with me because I was absolutely captivated by the nature that surrounded me. I used my phone to take a few pictures because I wanted to remember that moment. I could have used my actual camera but I didn't want to move from where I was. I wanted to be still...

I was sitting on the deck and enjoying the beauty of the fall crisp air, the bright sunshine at its funny Autumn angle and the blue sky-- that was painted with a few light wispy clouds. I also thoroughly enjoyed admiring the sparkling dew on the lush green grass, listening to the sounds of kids playing, and watching the dancing golden and orange leaves on the trees... Amazing. I always feel so close to God in those moments. He reminds me that nature is a reality just like He is. He's in everything- He sees it all and knows it all so intimately. I feel so blessed to have such a personal Savior. He's never distant from me, He is always there no matter what.

From the Autumn leaves, that will ride the breeze to faith it takes to pray and sing, from the painted sky, to my plank filled eye, He is God of all, He is everything....

I'm giving my life to the only One who makes the moon reflect the sun... Every starry night, that was His design... *

*You can listen to this beautiful song here , "Starry Night" by Chris August.

C25K: Week 6 & 7 Update

I'm happy to say that today I finished the 7th week of the Couch to 5k Running program! Yiiiipppiiie! Had I not gotten sick in September, I would probably be close to finishing Week 8. Oh well, I'm just happy that I haven't given up and am totally enjoying running. I look forward to it and can't wait to be out in God's amazing nature. I always feel so refreshed afterwards, like I can breathe more deeply. Ahhh....

Since I missed out on running for about 10-12 days in September, my running days have changed. I'm trying to get back on to the Monday, Wednesday and Friday plan. It has taken a few days to get back into that rhythm due to my work schedule and other activities. That reminds me of something I would like to mention about the C25K... I love how it is such a solid plan and yet if I need to, I can make adjustments. Ideally I would run MWF and then take the weekend off. However, after I got better I knew I just needed to get out there before I lost my motivation. I didn't want to repeat my mistake of quitting altogether like I did earlier this year!

So to give you an idea I stopped running on Sept 17th (a Friday). I didn't run again until Sept 29th, which was a Wednesday. On the 29th I did Day 2 of Week 6. Since I didn't want to wait all the way again until Monday to run, I finished the 3rd day of that week on Saturday, October 2nd. Oh wow that was quite the run!! That was probably the best run I have had in months. I don't know where I got the energy or what it was. I'm guessing it was all the pent up energy in my legs (they were like coiled springs) from when I was sick! I think it also helped that the sunshine was out- I always feel an extra mental boost when I have it beating down on me.

On that day I did a different running route too-- I finally conquered a large hill I've been wanting to "crush" for so long. It's symbolic to me and it's a very challenging running route. I just had to get up and over it! So glad I did! Next week when my running time increases, I think I'll try and smack it down again. I don't let hills intimidate me! ;-)

Anyway, here is what my running schedule has been like for these two weeks... I strongly encourage you to do this running program!

Week 6
Day 1

5 minute brisk warm-up walk
Jog 1/2 mi or 5 minutes
Walk 1/4 mi or 3 minutes
Jog 3/4 mi or 8 minutes
Walk 1/4 or 3 minutes
Jog 1/2 mi or 5 minutes

Day 2

5 minute brisk warm-up walk
Jog 1 mi or 10 minutes
Walk 1/4 mi or 3 minutes
Jog 10 minutes

Day 3

5 minute brisk warm-up walk
Jog 25 minutes

Week 7 -- same for all 3 days

5 minute brisk warm up-walk
Jog for 25 minutes (~2.5 mi)

And there ya have it! Next week I run 28 minutes (or ~2.75 mi) for all 3 days! :) Happy running ya'll!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hello October!

"October gave a party,
The leaves by hundreds came--
The Chesnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band..."
--George Cooper

I have gone too long without writing! Feel like these past two weeks have been very hectic. It's now the halfway point through the semester, the holidays have arrived at my part-time job and I've started substituting. Needless to say, there hasn't been much downtime! Somehow though I've been able to fit in my running plan so that has helped to keep me a little balanced. haha

Thankfully, I have gotten a break from work this weekend. I was supposed to work yesterday for four hours but there weren't many customers. My boss gave me the option of taking the shift or giving it to another gal. Since I've been working quite a bit, I decided to use the day for homework instead. I'm so glad I made that choice. Plus, I got to hang out with Jennifer in the evening so that was a fun ending to the day. I enjoyed spending some time with her and getting a change of scenery.

The "change of scenery" consisted of going to the mall to do some shopping. I haven't needed anything but sometimes it is fun to get some new items (and to do girlie things). Yes, I will admit, I have a weakness for clothes. And even worse, for Forever 21. That darn store always has clothes that fit my body style and they're so cute. Oh well! I'm pretty careful with my money so I didn't go overboard. I only spent about $26 for two shirts, 1 skirt and two headbands. I had a little money on a gift card so that made my total amount reasonable. :)

I am excited to get a little more breathing room in these next few weeks. My work schedule is going to be considerably less crazy for the rest of this month (at least for the part-time job). I am going to try to sub a few more days this month if possible. I already have a half day set up for later this month and am looking forward to that!

Ah yes, I have to say it feels great to be teaching again. On Thursday I had my first subbing day for the school year and at my favorite school. I subbed for second grade, which was fun. Thankfully I was able to meet with the teacher the day before to go over things. That helped to calm my nerves quite a bit (though my stomach was in knots in the morning!).

I'm happy to say that I haven't lost my subbing skills either. I know, I know, you can't lose teaching skills over the summer but I panicked last [academic] year when I didn't sub at least once a week. So yeah it's great to be subbing again! I kept saying to myself throughout the day, "just one chunk at a time." That's a great line I learned from the first teacher I subbed for last year. Such good advice!

Anyway, the day went by very quickly. I was busy every moment! For the most part the day was successful. As I expected, the kids were hyper in the afternoon. I think having it be their "Friday" (statewide in-service day was on Friday) and the activities in the afternoon contributed to their energy level. Oh well! It was all good though.

Fall is certainly here :) I'm totally embracing it too! When I go running I love to look at the trees and their changing leaves. I just love the color palette of fall: reds, oranges, and yellows. Such beautiful rich colors-- all created and orchestrated by God.

Hope you're enjoying this season too!