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!