Happy New Year! - Recap 2008

So much has happened this year, for myself and those in my family. When I think through this past year it's amazing to me how much has changed and how much I've grown.
I am not the type of person who makes New Year's resolutions, because things almost never turn out the way you think they're supposed to, then you just feel disappointed. But I do think that it's a good thing to reflect on what the Lord has done for you during the past year at this time. The following is a recap of my year and some of the things the Lord has taught me.

January/February 2008 - I started out this year as a newly engaged girl, a shining ring on my finger and a brand new Yorkshire puppy named Ralphie. I spent these first couple of months looking at wedding websites and magazines, trying to decide how I'd like to organize the wedding.
At the end of January I went back for my last semester of dental hygiene college. This was probably the most stressful semester of hygiene school that I had to endure, mainly because of preparing for and worrying about my National Board Exams.
My clinic at dental hygiene school started out rather well, and I was starting to feel more confident about becoming an official registered dental hygienist, and working in the "real world".
I also enjoyed my first Valentine's Day ever with anyone, and I felt extremely blessed that I got to spend it with my fiance, Derek! Derek brought flowers and a white teddy bear to my school for me on Valentine's Day (all my classmates were very impressed)!
January and February were very blessed months for me.

March/April 2008 - Clinic definitely became harder during this time. I failed one of my patients, and I think my confidence was somewhat shattered after that, and i struggled through Clinic for the rest of the semester. I think at this time the Lord was trying to teach me to rely on Him more. I didn't realize it at the time, but when things were going well in clinic, I think I was relying on myself too much, and not taking the time to continue to ask for the Lord's help and thank Him when things were going well. This was one of those hard lessons to learn.
I took my written National Dental Hygiene Board Exam in March. The Board Exam actually fell over spring break, and alas as soon as spring break started I was aflicted with a terrible cold. My nose was dripping constantly and I could barely breath - I was sniffing through the entire exam, and I hardly slept the night before because of my cold, and the stress of the exam. Adding to my stress was the fact that no one from our school had ever failed the exam (and I really didn't want to be the first)!
Clinic started to work out a little better by the end of the semester, and I finished all my patient requirements on time! I found out that I passed the written boards as well, which was a relief.
March and April were months of just trusting the Lord.

May/June 2008 - I graduted from dental hygiene college in May! Our program had a seperate pinning ceremony, and I also participated in my college graduation, where I was presented with my Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene (well, it was actually just the degree cover and my degree came in the mail in August, but it was still exciting)!
At the end of May I took my Clinical National Board Exam, in which I pick a qualifying patient and clean their teeth, and my work is checked by the board examiners. My patient was actually my dad, and it was rather fun to get to clean his teeth. After the exam we went to Arby's, and I ate a roast beef sandwich and curly fries, and a shake - I just went through a very stressful exam, so I indulged!
Jne was a flurry of packing, finishing wedding plans, dress fittings, and finding time to relax when I could. I found out that I passed the clinical boards, and I started gathering paperwork for my license to practice dental hygiene.
May and June were months when the Lord helped me through everything I needed to accomplish.

July/August 2008 - I received my dental hygiene license in the beginning of July and signed on with a temporary agency.
On July 12th Derek and I got married! The wedding went very well, it didn't rain, the guests enjoyed themselves, we got all the pictures taken; it turns out there was nothing to worry about! Except that I almost tripped on the runner on the way down the isle, but I didn't.
Derek and I took off to our honeymoon in Hawaii! We had a beautiful time on Kuai, and it was a wonderful start to our married life! I'm so blessed to have found my husband, he's one in a million! Derek and I are determined to go back to Hawaii some day, because we had such a relaxing time there.
In August I started work with the temp agency, which went well at first. However toward the end of the month I poked my hand with a dirty dental instrument, and I had to get my blood drawn and tested for any infections that I could have caught. I also learned how Workman's Compensation works. Unfortunately my employer was not helpful, and for some reason after the incident she wouldn't assign me any more jobs. I switched temp agencies shortly after.
Derek also resigned from his job at the end of August.
July was a month of blessings and love and thanking the Lord for everything He has done for us. August was a month in which our first tests were sent our way, but with the Lord's help they have helped strengthen us in our faith and in our marriage.

September/October 2008 - We got a new dog! Her name is Quincy, and she and Ralphie love playing together.
Derek started hunting for jobs before he left, and he was almost hired for an analyst position right after. However before he was hired the market took it's down-turn, and the company Derek was interviewing with put on a hiring freeze. We spent the next few months searching for jobs. It was very stressful not having any income, but once again the Lord was teaching us to trust Him. I think He was also trying to teach us not to worry so much, because we used to worry about money when Derek had a job, which we realized was silly now that we had no income! Another hard lesson to learn.
September and October were stressful months, and months in which we had to totally trust that the Lord would get us through.

November/December 2008 - Derek found a job and started in November! It's a job with the county, in the human resources department. It's not something Derek wants to do indefinitely, but it's a job, and it's helping us pay many of our bills. Eventually Derek wants a job back in finance, but the Lord gave us this job and we're very grateful for it.
I also got a temporary position filling in for a hygienist who was going on maternity leave, and I started that job in November. It was very helpful to have that job through Christmas; we were able to buy gifts for others and each other, and to pay some of the remaining bills for the month.
My brother got married on December 15th to a wonderful girl named Olivia. It's a blessing to have another member to our family!
Our first Thanksgiving and Christmas as a married couple were wonderful! We enjoyed being together and starting new traditions together.
Tonight is New Year's Eve, and we plan on ringing in the New Year with a movie marathon!
November and December have been months of enjoying being together and thanking the Lord for taking care of us.

Prayers for the New Year:
That the Lord would bring Derek and me good jobs that we enjoy, and that we'd be able to make all our bills and start saving money again.
That He would continue to bless us and take care of us and our families through this New Year.

Happy New Year's!

"The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace." Numbers 6:25

Happy Birthday Jesus!

This is a Christmas song by Alabama, and I think it's a good reminder of what exactly we're celebrating. I thought I'd share it here for those of you who may not have heard it.

Happy Birthday , Jesus

Happy birthday, Jesus,
It's that time of year.
All the lights on the trees
Say Christmas time is near.
Another year's behind us,
You helped us make it through.
So, happy birthday, Jesus,
This song is just for you

We all get so hung up
On material things
At times it seems like we forget
What Christmas really means.
It should be thanks we're givin',
That's why I wrote this tune.
Happy brithday, Jesus,
This song is just for you.

There's a gift for everyone but you
Underneath the tree.
No, it's not much, but I hope you like
This song to you from me.

Happy birthday Jesus,
That's why I wrote this tune.
So, happy birthday, Jesus,
My song is just for you.

This song has always been special to me, because it's one of those songs that really brings the entire purpose of Christmas back into focus.
Derek and I watched "The Nativity Story" last night. If you have not seen that movie, you should go out and buy it. It's definitely one worh having.
These days the Christmas season encompasses so much - lights, presents, parties, family, decorations, cookies, etc. There's nothing wrong with enjoying everything Christmas brings, it's a wonderful time of the year. But I think we need songs like this, or movies like "The Nativity Story" to get us to slow down and really think about Christmas, and what it's all about. To get us to think of what happened about two thousand years ago, and the beautiful gift and sacrifice that our Lord gave to us that day.

"Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world - stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death - and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep Christmas."-- Henry Van Dyke

"Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide open heart that thinks of others first. The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant the pouring into a sick world of the healing medicine of love which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years... Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart." -- George Mathhew Adams

Weddings Anonymous

I have a confession to make. I am a wedding addict. The big cake, white dress, flowers, painted car, beautiful bride, nervous groom, crying mothers, the whole shebang.

I think it started when I started doing research for my own wedding. All at once I found myself looking at wedding magazines, searching for flowers and dresses on the internet, watching wedding shows on TV. And I enjoyed it.

I figured after I got married the interest in weddings would subside a little bit. But it was not to be; after I got married some of my friends started getting married (one of which is my little brother - he's getting married tomorrow). I found myself standing in line at the grocery store, wanting to buy the new Brides magazine, but somehow resisting.

I love looking at pictures of weddings. Since I've got to know some of my friends who are married, I find myself searching for pictures of their weddings whenever I can. It's amazing to me how a bride looks so different on her wedding day. She can be a beautiful girl anyway, but somehow at her wedding there's a little transforming something that makes her even more radiant.

I love going to weddings. I've informed my husband that whenever we are invited to a wedding, we're going. It doesn't even matter if I know the people who are getting married. I love seeing the different styles of different weddings, I love watching the bride walking down the isle, the groom's face when he sees her, the music, the style and cutting of the cake, the decorations, the choice of flowers, the bridesmaids dresses and the style of clothes the groomsmen wear, the kind of food, the throwing of the bouquet and garter, the rice throwing, what the groomsmen did to the car.

I recently discovered a scrapbooking site, and I've been having alot of fun making my pictures into digital scrapbooks. But I must confess, I've also had fun searching for scrapbooks of other people's weddings, and studying all the items listed above.

I think my favorite part of a wedding is the ceremony. It's a wonderful thing to see all of the guests who come together to watch a man and woman commit themselves to each other. I especially enjoy the vows. There's something beautiful about being a witness as a man and wife promise to be true to each other, to love each other, to always be there and take care of each other, until death seperates them.

Weddings are wonderful, and yes, can be addicting, but I think it's the marriage that is truely what makes weddings attractive to me. Marriage is the most beautiful thing, when it is taken seriously, as God intended it to be. Yes, I am a little obsessed with weddings, but I'm not entirely certain it's a bad thing, because it isn't just the wedding, it's everything the wedding represents to me - an unconditional kind of love and commitment to each other, that should never end; marriage between a man and a woman that the Lord has created and blessed. That's what the wedding means to me.

Maybe I should just be a wedding planner. But then I'd have to work on weekends. I'll think about it.
End note: I got the image above from brides.com.

"Carols Those Kids Used To Sing"

One of my favorite Christmas songs is "Carols Those Kids Used To Sing" by the Statler Brothers. I think I love it so much, because of the lyrics. I had a terrible time trying to find the lyrics to post on here, but if you would like to hear the song you can go to this link: http://www.cmt.com/artists/az/statler_brothers/800209/album.jhtml.

This song talks about kids who gather together before Christmas and go around their town singing Christmas carols to their neighbors. The second verse talks about how one year they decided to bring turkey and toys to a family who otherwise wouldn't have a Christmas. The chorus says:

"Joy to the World!

The Lord has come;

Let Earth recieve her King!

And at Christmas each year,

I still love to hear

The carols those kids used to sing!"

I think there are a few reasons why I love this song. One would be my own memories of Christmas caroling. I've been going to my church since I was ten years old, and every year our church gathers together in mid-December and goes caroling door to door. It was always such a joy to see people's faces light up when we came to sing at their house, and being able to carol with people I love made the experience fun and special. Most of my friends from those days have moved on; one by one they moved away, and they no longer come to our church. However, my wonderful memories of that time will always bring a smile to my face, and this song by the Statler Brothers reminds me of all the fun times we had caroling.

I think another reason why I appreciate this song so much is because I feel like it captures the spirit of the Christmas season. The phrase "The Christmas Spirit" is very over-used in most Christmas movies and cards today, but who actually stops to think about what that means? Christmas can only be meaningful in the true way to those of us who are Christians, and I think the Christmas Spirit can only be fully understood by Christians.

What is Christmas all about? Many people who do not believe in Christ would just say it was about being with family and friends, etc. But as we know, the true reason for Christmas is to celebrate the wonderful gift the Lord has given us by sending His Son. God Himself was born in a manger so that He could eventually die to save us from our sins. For Christians, that thought inspires us and makes the Christmas season something wonderful and special.

And if God did such a thing for us, should we not serve God by serving other people? Doesn't the Christmas Spirit have to do with our joy and gratefulness to God for the Gift He has given us? Because of our joy and gratefulness to God, we show special kindnesses to those around us, and that's the source of the Christmas Spirit, that is so often referred to at this time of year. "Carols Those Kids Used To Sing" is special to me because it captures that true spirit of joy and thanks in a beautiful way, and it reminds me not only of my childhood, but also of the Reason why we celebrate, and it inspires me to do more for others. And aren't those three things really what Christmas is all about?

Take some time to sing some carols this Christmas, and remember the source of the Christmas Spirit!

"Thanks be to God for His Indescribable gift!"

2 Corinthians 9:15
End note: I got the above image from www.ezthemes.com.
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