Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Full of Thanksgiving

"And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6-7

Gratitude is something that comes from deep within when one is truly appreciative of something. In more simpler terms as described by Dr. John Townsend at a message I heard last week, "Gratitude is appreciating what I can't produce." In order to be grateful, you have to have received something. People who have co-dependent tendencies have a hard time receiving because they always want to be in control. I myself have trouble with needing to be in control and feel disoriented (for lack of a better word) when things are not within my control. Some of this comes from issues in my past, but some of it also comes from the undeniable feeling of not being in control of the car while sitting in the passengers seat when my accident happened 9 years ago. However, we need to be thankful for what brings fruit, not for what feels comfortable.

In this season of thanksgiving, I wish to list that for which I'm thankful, keeping in mind that my "gratitude is appreciating what I can't produce on my own."
  • My family - both blood and God's
  • A roof over my head and food on the table
  • Healthcare
  • Amazing women I met at Ms. Wheelchair America
  • My cat
  • Technology
  • Ability to worship freely
  • My church
  • A wonderful job
  • Law enforcement friends who keep watch over me and protect me every single minute of my life, no matter how busy they are
  • Honest and supportive friends
  • Reconnecting with old friends
  • Cars
  • Airplanes
  • God's grace and love when I mess up
  • Memories of my grandpa
  • New births
  • Beautiful flowers, the ocean, mountains, palm trees, and sunsets
  • Those protecting us in the military. I salute you.
  • Freshly washed sheets
  • Good music
  • Love
  • Opportunities to share God's love in multiple different venues
  • My mentors who keep me on track
  • My fantastic boss (and no, I'm not just saying that! I really do mean it! - Plus, he's from the South. How can you NOT like him??)
  • Doctors, teachers, police officers, and fire fighters
  • Pictures that help freeze wonderful moments in time
  • Celebrate Recovery
  • My health
  • My education
  • Hugs, smiles, and laughter
  • Children's curiosity
  • the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ
  • Candles
  • the fact that our forefathers built this country on the foundation of Christianity
  • Coffee
  • Opportunities to try new things
  • Sweatshirts
  • For this accident/disability to have happened to me (9 years ago, I could have never imagined myself saying that. God has rescued me from hell and back, and the lessons I've learned have been invaluable)
  • My Salvation
  • Exercise
  • Drive-thru's
  • Stoplights
  • Laws that protect us from harm and/or harmful people
  • Warm cookies
  • Seeing growth in myself year after year
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Back in the Day... to Today.

High school was an interesting time for me. I never felt like I quite fit in, though I was friends with people in many of the groups on campus. Looking back, some may have said I was “popular,” and others may say I was a nerd. I don’t know. I was sadly trying to constantly fit in while at the same time hold to my values and beliefs. (I'm in the pink top and white pants in the picture. This was during a Chorus Show in Highschool.)

I remember going to my first high school football game. It was full of excitement and camaraderie. The sounds, the sights, the people! It was all so exciting as we chanted for our home team with our faces painted with school colors and waved pom pom’s in the air. We would bang our feet on the stands loudly in an attempt to distract the other team as the 15 or so cheerleaders joined us in their cheers. Sometimes we won, most of the time we didn’t, but it was high school at its finest. The band would play the same songs each Friday night it seemed, and probably the best part (for me) was watching the band during halftime as the color guard and majorettes had choreographed routines to coincide with the music. Honestly, I had no clue about football (and still really don’t). But music… I understood music! Aaah, those were the days.

Tonight, I had the privilege of watching one of the top rated high school football game on Homecoming night, nonetheless. I’m a good friend with one of the coaches on the team, and I’ve always been encouraged to come watch a game. However, it’s not exactly my idea of a “Friday night,” so to speak. You know, to go hang out with high schoolers who I don’t know. Tonight, however, I was inspired to go watch him in action. I was given special access to be on the sidelines, which I don’t know was really that helpful because I constantly had football players’ rear ends in my face. But again, I wasn’t really there to watch the game but to watch and encourage my friend while he coached.

My focus quickly changed from “watching him in action” to observing how much has changed in high school’s since I last attended over ten years ago. Wow, what happened between then and now? As you walk into the stadium, there are vendors galor selling their wares and food. Everything from Mexican to hamburgers were set up underneath pop up tents. Shoot. All we had was the “Food Stand” that sold nachos, popcorn, sodas, and candy underneath the bleachers. There may have been hotdogs, too. I can’t remember. Tonight, I almost felt like I was at a real football game with all the vendors! Also, there must have been not 15 but 50 cheerleaders, and each has their own personal, decorated wood block that they stand on. I imagine this is to see above the football players. Our cheerleaders never had that type of pedestal. They just cheered on the track field. The people in the stands back then were dressed for comfort and spirit, not style. We didn’t have cell phones. Beepers/pagers were just coming into play, but not everyone had one. But tonight, almost every girl I saw had their blonde hair all done up as they donned big fancy earrings, designer skinny jeans with Ugg boots holding an iPhone. It made me want to say “Ugh.”

The smell of alcohol was rancid tonight. Where was I when all this was happening back in the day? I’m sure it had to have been going on, but I was clueless to it all. I mean, when I was in high school, after the football game was over, I went home. I never would have thought about drinking before, during, or after the football game. Wow. No wonder the crowd was so rowdy tonight.

Since it was “Homecoming Night,” perhaps there were more people there than normal, but halftime in particular was extremely different than I remember on Homecoming Night. When I was in high school, the marching band would play a little number and then along with the color guard, they would split into two to create a beautiful path down the 50 yard line where each girl who was nominated was escorted by her parents. Each girl was announced with all her achievements, and it was exciting to hear the announcement of who won over the loud speaker. Back in my day, becoming Homecoming Queen was more of a popularity contest, but as I sat on the sidelines tonight with one of the teachers at the school, it seems as if each of the girls that were nominated were really good, smart, and deserving girls. But, the entire “announcement” was so odd and weird. There was no marching band. There wasn’t a color guard. Instead, there was this odd dramatic play about the “Wizard of Oz” on the field and the witch had to let out each of the nominated girls from behind this cage-thing where their dad’s would then take them and lead them down the field. Then in sync, the girls danced a choreographed dance to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with their dad’s. I must say that although it was odd, it was also strangely tear-jerking. What a beautiful memory this must have been for these dads to have danced with their daughters all dressed up on Homecoming Night in front of all these people. However – almost without warning – the music was done and suddenly everyone looked to the End Zone and within two seconds, fireworks started shooting off and the name of the winner for Queen was lit up – in fireworks!! Is this just California high schools that can afford this?? Fireworks? Seriously? This never, ever, ever happened when I was in high school. Man, I feel old.

It was rather chilly (55 degrees), so I left shortly after the 3rd Quarter started. After all, it was 30-7 when I left… and they win every game. I don’t think tonight will be much different. But I couldn’t help but get back into my car and think back to how much things have changed in such a short time for me. And it was all triggered by a high school football game. Ten plus years ago when I graduated high school, I was one of those teenagers in the stands. My life was solely centered around me for the most part, and my co-dependency was in high gear as I desired to fit in and “be somebody.” Now, here I am years later and can’t believe how times have changed. Though there are some days that I miss those years, I love where I am now. I love the path that I’ve taken and the road that God has me on. It empowers me to look back at my life then and my life now – and compare it to those I tried so desperately to be like in high school. For some, I am glad I’m not like them. They are still living the same lifestyle they were back then – drinking, partying, trying to “be someone.” Others I’m extremely proud of as they have gone and married and have beautiful families. Others have sadly divorced. But all in all, I’m thankful that I lived that somewhat “sheltered” life while in high school. I think life for me would have been completely different now that I’m older had I succumbed to the pressure of being a teenager.

Needless to say, tonight was a very eye opening experience. I’m glad I’m no longer in high school, and God help me when I have children who reach high school age where fireworks are no longer the “in” thing. What will it be next?

Oh, and good job coaching tonight, though I don’t think I watched much of it…. J