Monthly Archives: December 2011

2012 To-Do List

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So in a short few days, the ball will drop on Times Square, and we have a brand new year, a fresh slate. I always love the beginning of each new year. For me, it’s filled with endless possibilities, and I always look for new ways to make myself a better person.

A few days ago, my friend Milton asked if I had any resolutions. I couldn’t think of any except the fact that I want to lose weight. What girl doesn’t set herself that goal at the dawning of the new year? Other than that, I couldn’t think of a single one.

I’ve tried making my resolutions stick since middle school. But around the middle of January, I usually find myself back to my old habits and routines, and my resolutions are absent. So for this new year, I decided upon a different approach. Yes, I want to be a better person, but I am not going to do it through resolutions.

Call it a bucket-list if you want, but I really don’t plan on dying in 2012 even though most people think the world is going to end. I don’t. Jesus is way more creative with that. Like He’s really going to let the world know when it’s going to end? Yeah right.

For 2012, I’ve made a to-do list of things, places, and tasks I want to do. All of the items on my list I have never done or been able to fully complete before now.

The List in the making

  1. Fly a kite
  2. Read 50 books in a year
  3. Read the entire Bible in 364 days
  4. Go somewhere I’ve never gone before
  5. Photograph something incredible
  6. Color an entire coloring book
  7. Successfully do yoga
  8. Somehow run a mile each day
  9. Try sushi
  10. Play in the rain barefooted
  11. Visit my best friend at UTC
  12. Master five songs on the guitar
  13. Learn how to use bar chords on the guitar
  14. Learn how to properly use Photoshop
  15. Make myself more vulnerable
  16. Keep a journal each day
  17. Try everything on the Starbucks menu
  18. Lead others to Christ
  19. Be bold in my faith
  20. Go back to Memphis
  21. Watch all of the Star Wars movies–even though I didn’t even like the first one
  22. Straighten my mom’s insanely curly hair
  23. Write a blog at least once a week
  24. Watch every episode of Psych
  25. Shoot a gun–like at a target or can. I just felt the need to clarify.
  26. Take a road trip with just friends
  27. Take a road trip just me and mom
  28. Write a poem worth reading
  29. Bake 100 cookies and randomly give them away
  30. Start writing a novel
  31. Write a song
  32. Build a sand castle
  33. Make fried pies
  34. Be in a flash mob
  35. Climb a tree
  36. Document my entire day with a camera
  37. Go completely silent for one entire day
  38. Make dinner for my family and friends
  39. See an SEC team play that I’ve never seen before
  40. Do a one handed push-up
  41. Stay in Barnes and Noble for an entire day
  42. Visit the creepiest, scariest, most haunted house I can find on Halloween
  43. See an 80’s band in concert
  44. Let my dog ride in my car with his head hanging out the window
  45. Go to more than 5 concerts
  46. Stay an entire night at Bonnaroo
  47. Sleep outside in the summer without a tent in my yard
  48. Make 4 new friends
  49. Go horse back riding
  50. Vote in the election
  51. Paint something for my apartment
  52. Throw someone a surprise party
  53. Finish a scrapbook
  54. Work an entire jigsaw puzzle by myself
  55. Learn how to play one song on the piano
  56. Make a snow man with 3 people–providing that it snows
  57. Learn how to sew on a button
  58. Straighten my hair every day for an entire week
  59. Do a backhandspring at MTSU
  60. Win a game of laser tag
  61. Make someone’s day


2011 Highlights

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There are only six more days until the year 2011 concludes. As usual, the old cliché of “where did the time go?” is on my mind. Because in all seriousness, where did it go? This time last year I was tuning the strings on my new Johnson guitar, and my only responsibilities consisted of nothing except finishing out the rest of my senior year.

Now, life is full of all sorts of responsibilities. College is a completely different world than high school. My life transformed, and it doesn’t seem real that only six measly months ago that I graduated high school in front 3,000 of my closest friends.

The year 2011 hasn’t been a piece of cake. Transiting wasn’t as effortless as I thought. Graduation itself was actually fast, and the last months of high school are all a blur of friends, breezing through homework, and tying up loose ends.

Here’s the highlight reel of 2011. The 12 highlights of the year thus far.

January: Snow days. Two simple words. The white fluffy fun visited Tennessee with a furry leaving me with one option: to play. I had some of the most fun with my best friends sledding down the snow-covered terrain and ramming into thorny bushes. I came away with snow burn and bruises. But hey, what’s a little pain?

February: Not that it will ever really matter, but I got into the top ten percent of my class. I got the 20th spot, too. It will never matter again in my life, and no one except maybe all the other people who snagged a spot will care. I guess it was just one of those accomplishments that will only potentially be remembered at my class reunion ten years from now.

March: The good–learning my newspaper was number one in the state. It was one of the best feelings of my senior year. It definitely is in the top five moments. The bad–the person who loved me, spoiled me through endless pots of macaroni and cheese, and was on my side no matter how wrong I was, passed away. And, I still miss her to this day.

April: What a blur. I did the prom thing. I finished up all my high school duties. In reality, I didn’t do a whole bunch of anything. Maybe that’s why it was significant.

May: I graduated with all the sashes I ever want. I didn’t fall in front of a very large crowd. I celebrated my 18th birthday with my friends. May came and went with much ease, not to mention a lot of goodbyes.

June: I’ll never forget walking on those cracked streets in the Memphis heat as I went door to door picking up children for bible club. Their faces are etched in my mind, and their stories are woven in my heart. I would do anything for those kids. I will go back to serve there one day. I just don’t know when.

July: Like Spongebob, I went stepping on the beach and watched the ocean waves crash on the shore. It’s always my favorite part of the summer. My mom and I always tease that we could be at the beach in eight hours when we feel like running away. One of those days, it will happen. No, I am not joking.

August: I finally left the little town that I have known all my life. It’s not like I went very far either, just thirty miles up the road. Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to go further away. Nonetheless, I found myself walking the sidewalks of MTSU not knowing my place among all the people. Maybe I never will.

September: Only eight days after my first article published in my college paper, I managed to wind up with cover story. It landed in my lap. It was a God-thing, serendipity, an accident. I don’t really know what to call it, but it happened. I wrote the cover on an upcoming band that toured to our campus. It was the biggest story I’d ever done, and I got the entire band to sign my copy of the paper backstage before their performance.

October: Every girl deserves one perfect day out of this 365 day of the year, right? I don’t know what it was, but I had the perfect day in this month. My best guy friend from Bryan College came to visit. I managed to get all the work I needed to do that day, and I went with one my new good friends to an awesome worship service. I had the best interview of my life, and it was just an incredible day.

November: Two things: All Time Low concert and Thanksgiving Outreach. I finally got to see the band I had dreamed of seeing for the past four years. I had the best mosh pitting experience, and I held the lead guitarist’s hand (even if it was for just five seconds). I delivered meals to people who needed them, and I got to share the love of Christ. And of course, I couldn’t have a good adventure without getting lost along the way now could I?

December: This month is finally coming to a close. I finished my first semester of college. I got promoted to associate news editor of my college paper. I successfully lived on my own, and now I am back in my small, little town with all the same people. Christmas came and went. The wrapping paper is torn and already thrown away. I watched two of my new friends get baptized, and I had the blessing of helping with Operation Christmas Child. What more could I ask for?

As I ring in the New Year with my several friends in a week, I wonder what the new year holds. There’s no telling what God can do.

Christmas Eve Insomnia

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Another Christmas is upon us, and Santa is already making his stops around the globe. But before Christmas ever comes, we have to have Christmas Eve. Growing up, Christmas Eve was one of my least favorite days of the year. I’ve always had a problem on December 24. A problem I still can’t remedy at 18.

I can remember Christmas Eves where I was a small body of angst. The day was full of so much anticipation. What was I going to get from my mom and dad? Most importantly, what was I going to get from Santa? Time went slower on Christmas Eve than it did any other day of the year. That just drove me up a wall.

I remember vividly in the third grade I tried to do all sorts of physical activities all day to tire myself out. I did push-ups, and I did toe-touches. I did sit-ups too and don’t think I didn’t run around my house all day long. The bad thing was that just made matters worse.

I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning, and I slept in the floor of my parent’s bedroom on an air mattress that felt like all the air just kept being sucked out. My aunt and uncle came to see us for the first time in years, and all the sleeping arrangements got thrown off kilter.

However, all I could do was lay there with anticipation prying my eyes open until two in the morning. We had a strict rule in my house. I couldn’t leave my parents bedroom until they came to get me on Christmas morning. If I tried to slip into the living room, Santa wouldn’t come, which would be devastating.

Somehow, I don’t think this year would be any different. I’ve tried different tactics over the years to get myself to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. I’ve tried listening to classical music. I’ve tried counting sheep. I’ve tried laying in bed since eight o’clock in the evening. Nothing has ever worked.

Nothing is going to work this year either. I ended up watching movies until four this morning, and I’ve slept in until ten thirty. Not to mention, I have taken an hour nap today.

Going to sleep tonight won’t be easy. I still hope Santa comes. Maybe I should leave out those milk and cookies after all.

Operation Christmas Project 2011

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Part of the 157 boxes my church unloaded this morning at the loading dock at the Atlanta distribution center

Green and red boxes filled the entire trunk of the Ford Excursion I rode in for four hours today as I watched the sun rise in the Chattanooga sky this morning.

This tired college student rolled out of bed at three-thirty this morning to travel to Atlanta, Georgia, with my church family to deliver Operation Christmas Child boxes. Plus, we got to help pack the last boxes that needed preparation for Christmas.

To say I played my little part in something big is an understatement. My friend Kourtney and I contributed one box. My church contributed 157. But this year in Atlanta, the distribution center collected 1.2 million boxes that will ship all over the world. The goal for Atlanta was one million. They obviously surpassed that goal. What amazed me the most was  the United States collected 5.8 million of the 8 million sent around the globe. Now, that is amazing.

Sometimes, I feel like all we hear is negative news. Negative, negative, negative. We get mad at Occupy Wall Street protesters, and we don’t like how the Republican presidential polls are going. Either that or we are disappointed with Obama, or we agree with his nationwide health plan and get angry with the ones who don’t see things the way we do. There is a lot of angry stewing in the United States.

Today showed me God can prevail over any angry or negative news. We can come together as a country through God, and we can do something good for other people in nations across the world. I think we forget that underneath all the bad, we still are a giving country, and we have a massive heart for those in need.

The countries the boxes are going

I felt like I had a massive heart today as it swelled with joy. I don’t know what it was, but I was so blessed today working in the distribution center in Atlanta.  What was supposed to be a six-hour work day got caught in two as today was the last the distribution center would prepare and pack boxes.

Usually, they only let local people work on the last day of collection packing. However, my church slipped through the protocol cracks, and we ended being able to help.

The cool thing was that they shipped boxes from the North Carolina distribution center today just so those in Atlanta could prepare boxes. I am pretty sure that was one of God’s hidden blessings.

My friend and I packed a box for a five to nine-year-old boy this year. I always do a girl, but this year I did something different. Boys ended up being just as fun to shop for as we stuffed our box with dinosaurs, playing cards, jump ropes, a Hulk toothbrush, and much more.

I got a lot of good ideas for my box next year as my job today was to lift the lid off each box and collect all the donations for shipping that laid inside. Year after year, I always wondered where my box went when it left my hands. I am glad that for this holiday season I got to be the middle man. Maybe someday for all I know, I could be the one handing out those boxes to the children who receive them.

As a whole, I am blessed that I come from a giving country  not to mention it makes me realize how good I have it here in the states. I am not denying people live in poverty-stricken areas here, but for the most, we have it better than those other countries across. God has blessed this nation whether we want to recognize it or not, and He will do amazing things we can’t even imagine if we let him.

Not Required Reading List

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Books, books, and more books

It is time yet again for my winter reading marathon. The time of year where I set my stack of books down by the fireplace in the living room and start to read. I am not gonna lie. I cannot wait. I must prepare myself, however, for this intense marathon by figuring out what I am going to read.

All semester, I have read textbooks, different pieces of literature, and what feels like useless bits of information that I simply don’t need to know. In only a matter of a few days, I can sit in my snowman pajamas with out a stitch of makeup on, and I can transfer myself from reality into another world entirely.

Winter Reading List

1)Steven Tyler–Does the Noise in my Head Bother You?

I bought this book way back in the summer before I moved on to college world. I was told before I buy that I shouldn’t read it because some of the content can get a little explicit. Oh, who am I kidding here. It’s Steven Tyler. Some of it probably gets very explicit. Nonetheless, he is dynamic person I believe, and someone I wouldn’t mind knowing more about.

2) Ellen Hopkins–Perfect

 Surprisingly enough, Hopkins came out with two different books in about a month and half. I have been wanting to read this one since I bought the book six days after it release in hardback. She is one of my favorites since she writes in prose, which is different from every other author I have read. Perfect  is about four different people who all are being driven to perfection. I guess my perfectionist ways are driving me to read this book. We shall see.

3) Ellen Hopkins–Triangles

 This book is Hopkins’ first adult book. Up until now, she is solely written teenage fiction. I am interested to see the voice she has in this novel.

4) Sara Shepard–Ruthless

 Before I went off to college, I fell in love with the Pretty Little Liars book. After being in obsessed with the TV show, I figured the books had to be better. The books are better in some ways. There are pros and cons to the books and the show. However after going through the first nine books in 11 days, I have been waiting in anticipation to see what happens next. Hopefully, Santa will bring this book down the chimney with him. Perhaps, he will lay it prop it under my tree.

5) Rick Bragg–The Prince of Frogtown

As much as love his writing, I do not own all of his books. It’s quite sad actually. If I don’t receive this book for Christmas, I am definitely walking into Barnes and Noble to scour the shelves for this book. What I didn’t know is that this book is a saga, and it completes the All Over But The Shoutin’ series. I cannot wait to read this book.

6) Craig Groeschel–WERID: Because Normal Isn’t Working

During my family vacation this year, I read one of Groeschel’s book in a matter of four hours. While browsing the bookstore the other day, I discovered he had a new book. It’s a MUST want. I always think to myself how I want my life to anything but normal or cliche’. I want to change my world for Christ. I am not sure I can stand out in the world if all I do is blend in with the rest world.

7) Todd Burpo–Heaven Is Real

Back in April after my grandmother died, one of my mother’s friends gave her that book. Before I could even read the back cover, my dad had already snatched it up and started reading it. After that, I just never got to get my hands on it. Now, I am dying to read it. Everyone has been talking about it, yet I haven’t read one word of it.

8 ) Kathyrn Stockett–The Help 

Just now, a commercial just came on for this book, and it makes me want to read it even more. I feel like everyone and their mother has read this book. It’s been laying on my desk at school for four months, and I haven’t even got to turn the first page. Even my own mother who has time do nothing but work managed to squeeze this book in her daily schedule. I want to read this book and watch the movie.

9) Suzanne Collins–The Hunger Games Trilogy

All my friends have read these books, and the movie comes out sometime in March. I feel like everyone but me has read these books. I want to read them more out of morbid curiosity to see what they are all about. Normally, I don’t like anything post-apocalyptic. Thinking about the end of the world matters doesn’t usually interest me. Must read before March. Hopefully, I can read them before I go back for the next of the semester.

10) David Platt–Radical

My youth pastor suggested me to read this book way back in July. I just never got my hands on a copy of this book. Oddly enough, when I met a new friend at school, she was reading this book. She too told me how much I needed to read it. Even though it’s at the bottom of the stack, I’ll definitely read it. It just might take awhile to get there.

13 books. One month. Think I can handle it?

A Tale of Three Cities: A Christmas Tradition

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Hello from the North Pole

Every year at Christmas, we have three different worlds all in the same household. Of course, it is like this every year, and now the trilogy is complete. This past weekend, we put up my so called world before I went back to school for my last 10 days.

I’ve had the North Pole in my room during the holidays as long as I can remember. Santa and his elves have been working hard on my dresser since 1993.  The Department 56 Christmas villages have been apart of my family since the 80’s, and between mine, my mother’s, and my grandmother’s, we have three different villages that reside on our tables, entertainment center, bookshelves, and dressers.

I really didn’t understand the point of anything breakable when I younger. If I couldn’t play with it, what was the point? I remember unwrapping Christmas villages to add to my collection over the years when I was younger. I never got excited, nor did I really care.

Mom's village

My tune since my seven-year-old days have changed of course, and I look forward to helping my mom set up our villages within our household. The tradition started way back when my great-aunt got my mom villages one Christmas. They are called the Dicken’s villages, and the city is set up in old England. I am guessing the 1700s. When I was younger I remember sitting in my living room, and I thought the people used to come alive at night. And when day time rolled around, they would freeze back up again in the same position. I eventually learned that was not the case at all.

I am not entirely sure when my grandmother started her collection. I can see from the boxes that different friends gave her some pieces, but for the most part I think my mom got them for her. Either that or she bought them on her own. Compared to my mother’s collection, hers is small with only about seven or eight pieces. Her collection is the New England collection, which is set up in colonial America.

Nanny's Village

When my grandmother still had her house, I remember they perched up on one of the tables in the living room. After my grandfather died, Nanny didn’t really decorate her house for Christmas. She spent 90 percent of her time here in our house since she lived right next store. However, that is one of the few things she would put up in her house at Christmas time before she officially moved into our house. This Christmas her village sits in the dinning room, and I helped mom put it up. While it makes me sad, it wouldn’t be Christmas without her villages too.

Out of all three of the collections, I have accumulated the most. Ever since I was born, mom started the collection of the North Pole. Even though I couldn’t really touch it or play with it, I still liked them in room sometimes. I especially like it at night when I laid down to go to bed. The glow from the lights lit up my room, and it just made Christmas seem even more real for me. What kid doesn’t like having the North Pole in their room? Over the years, I have collected 18 different pieces. As we were buying my newest addition, my mother told me she couldn’t believe she was still buying these. I have to agree with her. I can’t believe we still are buying them too, but it wouldn’t be Christmas without a new addition to the North Pole.

My village

Of all the ones we have, mine is my favorite. It truly captures the whole spirit of Christmas. I have my own elf land that sits on my bookshelf. On top of my dresser, the remaining villages sit. I have several different pieces ranging from Santa’s boarding house to the Naughty and Nice Center. I guess if I am not good,  Santa will catch me from my room I suppose.

Nonetheless, I hope this is a tradition that I continue with my own kid Lord willing. My family isn’t really huge. We don’t have that many concrete traditions. However, this is one tradition that is three generations worth. Maybe one day it will be four if I ever have my own daughter. Maybe the North Pole can live in her room too.

Christmas blues

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It doesn’t matter what I’ve done this year, but nothing has put me in the mood for Christmas. Not Christmas music, not decorating, not buying new decorations, not buying gifts for people I love, not reading Christmas stories. Nothing. Nothing feels like Christmas. It feels like any other month of the year.

Yet, the calendar on my wall tells me otherwise, nagging me that Christmas is only 22 days away. To me that is crazy. How can it be Christmas already?

I remember when I was little bursting with anticipation the moment I would flip the page of my kitten calendar to December. I would pull out my VHS versions of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and a Charlie Brown Christmas, wishing and yearning for Santa to come down my chimney and put all the presents I want under the tree.

I loved watching my mother string the lights up on the Christmas tree, and I always loved turning all the lights out in my living room to  sit and stare. Watching all those colored lights twinkle on the tree made this time of year feel enchanted. It made my small green eyes gleam with excitement.  Everything about Christmas felt enchanted. It made me believe that the world could be magical.

I don’t know what has caused my Christmas funk. Maybe, it’s because I am older. Maybe it’s because my grandmother is gone. Maybe it’s because I am not home anymore. Or maybe this year has been so exhausting that I can’t force myself to really put myself in the Christmas spirit.

As I was listening to the radio on my drive home yesterday, the radio man said lots of people weren’t feeling it this year. At least I am not the only. The radio guy said watching Christmas movies was the solve-all answer to people’s lack of Christmas joy.

Given, I have yet to try his advice and prescription to remedy my spirit or lack thereof. It just doesn’t feel real. In my heart I know I want it to be real and magical. I wish I could have the heart of a child again where I all did was wish, want, and believe.