Monday, November 26, 2012

A Little Christmas Letter :)

It's time for Christmas music, right?! This is probably my most favorite time of year. We bring out the tree, turn on the Christmas music, start or finish gift shopping. We wish for snow. We wish for those things we want, maybe even need. We hang the stockings, trim the tree.

And then there's the little things that fill this season. The laughter. The love. The family togetherness. Simply just being together. The delight on each other's face.

This blog will most likely end up being kind of like a Christmas letter. I want to share with you what this last year has brought about for me. And who knows, maybe something new will pop up.

January was pretty uneventful. Nothing really stands out in my mind as a big thing. I worked not too much. My boyfriend and I had just started dating back at the end of December, so I guess January was spent getting to know him more.

February brought around Valentine's Day and more work. I actually spent Valentine's Day at work all day. So my boyfriend and I celebrated Valentine's Day the night before, and oh goodness! Was I surprised at his gifts. I guess I never really thought about how a boyfriend would want to spend Valentine's Day. Also in February, my dad lost sight in his right eye because a blood vessel burst. That was extremely scary for my mom and I. The significance of possibly losing my dad because his blood pressure was so high. My mom and I spent a couple hours crying and praying. And then suddenly, Mom was pretty much rushed to the hospital. Her blood pressure had skyrocketed. All the stress of a high-pressure job and my dad had gotten to her body. Both mom and dad were put on blood pressure medication.

March was pretty quiet. Basketball tournaments for my sister and brother. Medically speaking, my dad was getting injections, and still is, in his right eye to restore the sight. Trying to cut out salt for my dad since sodium can definitely be bad for high blood pressure. We've tried to change his diet, but like everyone constantly told us, we can only cut some things out and hope he gets it as well.

April and May. Oh the stories I could tell. The trips I took to downtown or the MOA with my boyfriend. He took me to Raspberry Island in St Paul and I absolutely loved it. I might not like to be there during the winter, but the day we went was GORGEOUS.

In June, I lost a couple hours at my job. And it prompted a search for a new job. It might not seem like a big deal, but when you're working 18 hours a week and suddenly lose 3 of those hours, you kind of panic. I spent June and the beginning of July applying EVERYWHERE. I had a couple interviews, one at Ruby Tuesday's, the other at Wal-Mart. Then a link for the job at the bank was emailed to me. I applied, had an interview, and was offered the job that same afternoon. I started July 30.

Also in June, I turned 21. No big blow out party. I spent the day with my boyfriend. And it was probably one of the best birthdays I've ever had. We went bowling, did a little shopping at the MOA, finally tackled my fear of the Ferris wheel. Then I opened some presents and had dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant. My boyfriend also surprised me with a small cake. I actually had tears in my eyes...

July. My boyfriend and I bought a fish, a betta. :) Our pastor of 13 years left to move to Ohio to a "new adventure.", a new church. We celebrated my boyfriend's 26th birthday. Small. Nothing too exciting. But we were together and so I think that's all matters. My family went on vacation towards the middle of July. My mom hadn't wanted to go because my dad had this horrible cough that the doctors thought was pneumonia/bronchitis. The first day they were on vacation, my dad ended up in the ER because he couldn't breathe. Soon they realized he had whooping cough.

August was relatively busy. I spent most of my days working every day, except for Saturdays. I spent time with my family, and I hung out with my boyfriend. Then I started this blog with some of the time I realized I gained because of the different hours I was working. I can't believe it's been three months since I started writing. I may not know what to say every week, but sometimes I'm blessed with words. Also in August, I saw my close friend for the first time in at least a year and a half.

September and October flew by pretty fast. School started again for my siblings, and the first two months after the summer were done. It was shocking for it to suddenly be Halloween! I don't feel like I did too much. I spent some time with my friend and boyfriend. And of course I worked pretty much every day.

November came with some surprising news. The other part-time teller had accepted a full-time job elsewhere in the banking community. Which meant that I was going to take on all her hours after a certain day until we found a new teller. My manager found a new part-time teller pretty quickly, but I still ended up with a bigger workload at the bank, reducing me to virtually nothing at my other job. Tomorrow will be my first day away from the bank in about 3 weeks.

We celebrated Thanksgiving last week, of course. I think we had 17 people in our house, 5 from Kansas, 3 from Wisconsin, 2 from St Paul, and the rest are the ones who live in this house. It's been awhile since we had to extend the family table AND borrow a table and chairs from our church. In November, my church unanimously voted in Pastor Paul and family.

December, of course hasn't started yet. So I have no idea what it will bring. But I am definitely excited for it, and I hope you are as well!

May this find you all well!

 My boyfriend and I, Thanksgiving 2012

Charley :)

 Merry Christmas! (a little early!)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving... Thankful For....

We are fast approaching the time of the year for the holiday season. Thanksgiving is THIS Thursday! Soon it will be Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and then the New Year.

I have a lot to be thankful for this year. I probably say that every year, but every year God blesses me with more than I would have thought I deserved. Isn't God wonderfully amazing to bless us with such gifts?!

First and foremost, I am thankful for God. Without His love and grace, who knows if I'd be the person I am today. He reached His hand out and touched me in ways that I never imagined. And again, He also blesses me daily, although sometimes I question why I have those gifts.

The thing is, I shouldn't just take this time of the year to thank God for all His miracles and love and grace. I should be constantly thanking Him every second of the day. And that's not to say that I am not doing that. But think about this for a second. How often do we just wait till Thanksgiving to thank Him for a handful of gifts He gives us? How often do we wait till Christmas to remember that He gave His son? Are we thanking Him for doing that for us as well? Or is that something that gets overlooked in the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving and family and turkey and let's not forget Black Friday?

I am thankful for my parents. Although I am 21 years old, my parents have not kicked me out nor do they require me to give them $500+ a month to live in their house and use their wireless internet access or their washing machine and dryer, or even the one shower in the house. They take time out of their busy schedules to drop me off at work, or drop me at my boyfriend's house. They give me love. They give me a chance to see what marriage and family is supposed to look like. Sure, there are times where I wonder why my mom had eight children. But most of the time, I am glad she did. I love you guys!

I'm thankful for all of my siblings. I'm thankful for the friendships I have with them. I'm thankful for the big family. I love that I am so close to most of my siblings. Do I wish I had better contact with a couple of those siblings? Of course. But I know a lot of people around my age envy the closeness, the way all of my family interacts with each other. I'm not saying my siblings and I don't get into fights because fights are what make us, us. We aren't perfect and I thank God for that. We have our own strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes we don't use that to the best of our abilities. I love all of you!

I am thankful for my boyfriend. He's been such a huge part of my life for the past two years. And he became a bigger part when we started dating a year ago. I never saw our relationship coming. I am thankful for the stability he brings to me. Yes, we have our moments, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Our strengths complement each other's weaknesses. And I love him so so much. We started out just coworkers, became friends, and after months of waiting, he confessed how much he liked me. Here we are a year later. How God works when we stop searching and chasing and doing our own thing. I love you!

I am thankful for my close friend. She has been through so much in her young life, and I can only hope some of the things I say impact her. I can only hope I help her. I am so amazed, again, at how God works. Here I was searching for a good Godly friend, and then through things beyond both of our control, she's closer than she was. I am thankful that I can share my thoughts with her, and fill our conversations with my life experiences, without her getting upset that I'm using my life to help her. She is in my prayers daily, and I can only hope we can maintain our closeness. I love you, dear girl!

And as strange as it sounds, I'm thankful for Pandora and Netflix. If not for Pandora on my iPod, I'd probably drive people crazy with my diverse taste in music. From a group named Escala to The Fray and everything in between, I love my music. If not for Netflix, my family and I wouldn't have a way to watch shows that are either no longer showing on cable. Although even if they were, we wouldn't be able to watch them. I'm honestly thankful for my parents disconnecting the cable. Some of the shows they are putting out now are just... not what I want to see.

I'm thankful for my jobs. They could not be any different, but they could not be any similar. They're fulfilling. And I love seeing a smile on older people's faces. I love being able to recognize bank customers or hear their crazy stories about their weekends. I love making those birthday calls and hearing the surprise in people's voice when they realize someone remembered (haha, thankful for those birthday lists as well!) their birthdays.  I love seeing some familiar customers and chatting with them. I love serving.

I am thankful for my church. This last Sunday, we unanimously voted in a new pastor and his young family. The couple of minutes I spent speaking with the woman, I absolutely loved her. He is a great fit as well. I can not wait to see where God leads us with Pastor Paul as our church's shepherd. We can only begin to wonder  how God will move.

I am thankful for a place to share my thoughts. I am thankful for a place where I can express myself, no matter who reads it or not. I am thankful for freedom, and those who fight day in and day out for us to be able to keep it. I am thankful for those who keep us safe, whether that be our policeman or our military.

I guess my list is a bit longer than I thought, but I have so much to be thankful for! I don't have the time or the patience to sit here much longer, but these few thankful for's only scratch the surface. As we join our families this Thursday to indulge in turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole or whatever you eat for Thanksgiving, rejoice that you have the freedom to do so! Remember those families who are missing a loved one, or remember those who are not able to join their families due to a commitment to keep us safe as we eat and shop on Black Friday!

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 100

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Boston, Colorado, Wherever

"You don't know me, you don't even care, oh yeah,
She said
You don't know me, and you don't wear my chains... oh yeah,

She said I think I'll go to Boston...
I think I'll start a new life,
I think I'll start it over, where no one knows my name,
I'll get out of California, I'm tired of the weather,
I think I'll get a lover and fly him out to Spain...
Oh yeah and I think I'll go to Boston,
I think that I'm just tired
I think I need a new town, to leave this all behind...
I think I need a sunrise, I'm tired of the sunset,
I hear it's nice in the Summer, some snow would be nice... oh yeah."
Augustana "Boston"

This week has got me tired and down. I'm trying to stay positive and smile, and occasionally a coworker will make me giggle over something stupid. But I'll be honest. I'm tired and worn down emotionally. I need time to myself, and I would love to be able to feel better. The last couple days have been a rollercoaster when it comes to my emotions and decisions. 

Because I've been so crazy with my emotions, I decided to leave Facebook. I deactivated my account today, and I don't know if I'll reactivate it. That's one of those things I can do without, I think. Maybe I'll reactivate just to get people's numbers for my phone, and to download my pictures but otherwise I really think I'm done. It's not something I'm interested in anymore. I don't think anyone can persuade me to reactivate it. I'm going to be making some changes in my life, and I really believe this is one of those changes I'm going to make and not change back.

I just want to disappear. Especially these last two weeks. I've been teary-eyed and upset almost every day. Maybe I just have too many hormones racing through my body, maybe I just need to take a break. But my day will come. I'm trying to save up for a trip to see a friend. Hopefully I will be able to after the new year. 

This post might appear to be just complain, complain, complain, and I apologize. That wasn't my intention at all for this post, but I need to clear my head. I think trying to stay positive and smiley and giggly all the time wears me down, and I just need to be sad. So I apologize if this isn't what you expected. This is was you're getting this week, and I can only hope you will continue to read after today.

No matter what I shut down, no matter where I go; no matter who I become, no matter how sad I appear, God is always there. And that is what I hope you take away from this not-so happy post. God is right beside you and always will be. He will always love you, no matter the choices you make. He knows all and will still accept you after silly mistakes.

Footprints in the Sand
        One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
             Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
                  In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
                       Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
                           other times there were one set of footprints.
                                  This bothered me because I noticed
                                that during the low periods of my life,
                             when I was suffering from
                         anguish, sorrow or defeat,
                     I could see only one set of footprints.
          So I said to the Lord,
      "You promised me Lord,
         that if I followed you,
             you would walk with me always.
                   But I have noticed that during
                          the most trying periods of my life
                                 there have only been one
                                       set of footprints in the sand.
                                           Why, when I needed you most,
                                          you have not been there for me?"
                                 The Lord replied,
                          "The times when you have
                  seen only one set of footprints,
          is when I carried you."
                                                   Mary Stevenson

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Views

It's the night before election day. How in the world the last year or so has passed by so fast, I have no idea. I'm not going to write about voting, or what's being voted on though. All of you have hopefully already made right decisions, based on your own views and not just the views of the world.

The thing is, homosexuality isn't a new issue. It's happened before and it will likely happen again. 

"What has been will be again,  what has been done will be done again;  there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say,  “Look! This is something new.”? It was here already, long ago;  it was here before our time. No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them." (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11)

Let's face it. God's seen it all before. And He's watching it happen again and shaking His head at our silliness. We think we're so clever. We think it's not been done before. We think we're the first to come up with homosexuality. But what most people don't realize is it's all happened before. There are stories in the Bible and it shows that God pretty much shook His head then. 

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. (Genesis 6:5)

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:26-27)

All I can do is pray. And vote for the right way to do things.... God's way of doing things... And we shall see what the outcome is.

But never ever forget! "The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord. He directs it like a stream of water anywhere he pleases." (Proverbs 21:1)