Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Favorite Moments of 2008

This year has been full of surprises. I have been one busy chickie and due to the busy-ness, the Christmas letter that I wrote turned into a New Year's letter. It's pretty great recap of my year, so I thought that I would include it along with some of my favorite memories and moments from 2008.

As an independent member of society, I decided it might be nice to send out a New Year's letter of my own and let folks know what was going on in my life. (Truthfully, I was going to send a Christmas letter and time just got away from me. Oops. This may serve as more of a reminder that I am growing up than asking for a can opener and a tea kettle for Christmas. Yes, I really did.)

I am a junior at Columbus State University here in Columbus, Georgia. I am majoring in Journalism and Photography. After changing my major about six times (and no, that is not an exaggeration), I have finally made up my mind. I have a lot of passion for both writing and photography. After I get my undergraduate, I would like to get my masters. Whether it will be in Journalism or Photography, I am not sure yet.

I moved out of Mom and Dad's house at the end of August of 2007. I am living in an apartment complex approximately twenty minutes away from Upatoi (where Mom and Dad live). I am about five minutes from Campus and ten minutes from work. It is so nice! I live with two other girls, Jessica and Genine. They are fantastic and we get along well. We each have our own rooms and bathrooms, so there is no lack of personal space. I have a sweet dog named Surls. He is a yellow lab who was abandoned in the park. He lives with Mom and Dad right because he is so big, but he is my little buddy. Although he can be a handful at times, I am glad that God threw him my way.

I am working at the Springer Opera House as the Education Assistant. My job duties include preparing study guides for the schools coming to see our productions, conducting workshops in the schools, teaching and assisting in the classes that our theater provides, and pretty much anything else my boss tells me to do. It also includes being cast in shows if they need me. I was cast as Piglet in Winnie the Pooh and the bride in Father of the Bride earlier this season. It's a great job and one that I love going to everyday.

Travel has become a favorite hobby. At the end of this summer, I took a trip to D.C. to see friends and wander the city. I went last year for fall break with Mom and Caroline, but loved it so much that I decided to go again, this time alone. I was able to stand on the south lawn of the White House and watch Marine One land with the President, First Lady, and Press Secretary all on board. What a treat!

God has really been working in my life in the past year and I have never been happier in Him. He has blessed me beyond what I ever could have imagined! I am a Yong Life leader at Shaw High School here in Columbus. For those of you who don't know what YL is, we reach out to high school students and share Jesus Christ with them. My kids are a huge part of my life. I am in daily awe of God's love, grace, and mercy in my life. I am learning how to thank Him for the good, as well as the not so good in my life, realizing fully that He has “plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give (me) a future and a hope...” (Jeremiah 29:11)

That is my life up to speed. I am very busy and extremely happy. Life has thrown me some curve balls in the past year, but I am fully content with the life that God has blessed me with. What an awesome God we serve!

  • Snow day '08. This day is not only one of my favorites from the year, but it ranks in my top five favorite days of all time. Mom took me, Katie, and Ben to find the snow when it hit Georgia in early January of this year. It was a great day with family and one that I will treasure always.
  • Sharptop Cove. Experiencing this great Young Life camp with new friends and old friends and getting the best and most surprising surprise I have ever received, makes this early February weekend a weekend that I will never forget. Jesus spoke to my heart in a totally new and inspiring way. It was that weekend that I knew "I was made for this."
  • My first Club at Shaw Highschool. Matt and Rich made me pretend that I was the pizza girl that just happened to fall in love with Young Life and become a leader. There are still kids who are confused by this. Hehe.
  • My summer trip to the Garvin home. Amanda was preaching at Cannon UMC and I was invited to come and spend the weekend. It was a great weekend of swimming, shopping, and fellowship with one of my favorite families.
  • Springer Theater Academy. I was only involved for one week, but it was a great week. My summer was far too memorable in a not so great way and it was a nice ending to a not so nice summer.
  • Washington, D.C. The last week of July, I went to D.C. to see some friends. It was a wonderful opportunity to get some much needed alone time and experience the big city alone. I was (and am) very proud of myself and not using a map, concealing my camera, and crossing the street before the light told me to. I prided myself in being a non-tourist.
  • Country's Midnight Run. After hurting my knee and not being able to run all summer, I was able to run two of the three miles of the Country's 5k at the end of August. I finished in 35 minutes, which I was pretty proud of considering the fact that I had not run in a couple of months.
  • The Vander-Baker nuptials. Two of my dearest friends were joined in holy matrimony in early September. It was one of the most fun weekends. Lots of friends, old and new. And tons of good food, good music, and genuine joy and excitement for two fabulous people.
  • My job. That morning that I had coffee with Mr. Ron and later got my current job at the Springer Opera House was a very exciting moment for me. I am finally in a job that I love, in a building that I love, with people I love and who love me. Yay!
  • Father of the Bride. Mr. Ron casting me as the bride in FOB was a neat part of my year. It was the only role that I really wanted this season and being given the opportunity to do something that I love so much was really an honor.
  • Thanksgiving. It sounds so silly, but I have never been as excited as I was this year about my favorite holiday. Thanksgiving is so special to me, but having all of my friends home this year made the holiday that much more exciting. I am truly blessed to have friends like mine.
This list seems short to me and I know that there are other moments that have slipped my mind. I am thinking of them right now. Joining my church was a huge deal. Going to the beach with Caroline and Liz was a joy and a blessing. Lucy being home this summer and driving the Mustang everywhere. And getting my dog, Surls, was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I am blessed beyond compare and there are no words adequate enough to express my joy and contentment in the life that my Savior has given me. He is worthy to be praised and mighty in His works.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

This week I learned...

  1. I can cook, but I don't like to do it alone.
  2. I am not the greatest driver (I didn't really learn this this week, but I thought I would throw it in there).
  3. Alone time is something that I crave every now and again.
  4. I am more conservative than I thought I was.
  5. Girlfriends are priceless.
  6. A clean apartment is far more enjoyable than a dirty one.
  7. Community is a bigger deal to me than I once thought.
  8. A sweet text message goes a long way.
  9. Friendship is something to guard and protect.
  10. Driving on empty is almost always bad news.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The 2nd Annual Garcia-Garvin Christmas Shopping Weekend

As I write, I am sitting in the living room of one of my best friends, Kathryn G. I came up to her home in Atlanta yesterday afternoon and plan on heading home tomorrow.

This has been a good weekend for me. Good girl time, good quotes, and a lot of thinking, both on the road and in quiet moments. Time with my sweet friend, Kathryn, is always fun and I treasure our friendship.

I serve an awesome God who pursues me relentlessly. The ride up to Atlanta was productive God time and my thoughts were and are stayed on Him. It is times like these, when He consumes my thoughts, that I know He is pursuing me and working in my heart. He has used this weekend and this Holiday season to pull me even closer into His loving arms. His love and mercy are evident to me as He humbles my heart and shows me my imperfections and my unrighteousness. I am in awe of His grace and greatness.

Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together. -Psalm 34:3

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Feliz Navidad!

That's "Merry Christmas" in Spanish for those of you who don't speak the mother tongue. Hehe.

I have realized that the older my siblings and I have gotten, the less we care about getting up super early on Christmas morning. However, with a ten year old and seven year old who do still care about getting up super early, we were all up before eight. Not that early, I suppose. But still. Mom says that Ben made it to seven thirty, which is pretty good, all things considered.

Last night, Mary Lou, Jess, Mom, and I stayed up watching old home videos of past Christmases. Hilarious. There were some classic lines. Allow me to share.

  • Theresa (1998)-"This is great! I got everything I asked for!"
  • Mary Lou (1998)-"Oh. My. Gosh. Oh. My. Gosh. I got Lisa Frank! Oh. My. Gosh."
  • Sarah Ann(????)- In response to something Caroline received; "Oh. I want that."
  • Dad(1998)-"Beth, did we not get J-O-E a H-O-R-S? (yes, he left off the "e" and continued to do so every time he spelled it.)
We did our best this morning to incorporate a lot of these lines. I really did get everything that I asked for.

  • A can opener.
  • A tea pot.
  • A sweater.
  • A watch.
  • Mascara.
  • Bobby Pins.
  • "Wicked" the book.
You know you are getting old when you ask for kitchen stuff for Christmas.

My favorite gift to give were the pictures that Anthony took of all the kids for my parents.

The picture was a huge hit. We also gave them individual shots. So cute.

This morning has been pretty quiet. That is one of the things that I love about our Christmas. Alway pretty quiet and laid back. We just enjoy one another all day.

I have been using this line all over the place, but I am thankful for peace on earth and mercy mild; God and sinners reconciled. What a glorious thought! Because our Saviour was pleased as man with men to dwell, we are reconciled with God above! Glory to God in the Highest! Hallelujah!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

What a busy day! There were gifts to give and receive, lunch with the Bakers, last minute shopping to do, and a Christmas Eve service to prepare for.

Today, I am most grateful for:
  • The birth of our Saviour
  • Family
  • Friends
  • A reliable car
  • Good food
  • Good music
  • Laughter
  • Pure joy

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Just a dream.

The blinds were closed. The room was a normal temperature. Was she holding Grace Kelly? Not really sure. The girl seemed to resemble Monaco's Princess and the film world's sweetheart. Regardless, "Grace" was thrashing about the room, somewhat like a mentally ill child. The conversation was normal. Questions and answers. Stories and jokes. Outbursts and calming, soothing reassurances.

Then it happened. There was a loud crash from outside the house. Screams. She jumped up and ran out of the room. Outside, her dad and several siblings are kneeling over something or someone in the front yard. There is a miniature collie sitting at the end of the driveway, licking her paws.
She see headlights in the ditch across the street. She runs, screaming all the way. "Please, don't be dead. Please, don't be dead." Finally across the street, she sees that the drivers window is unrolled and there is a white bib over the face of the driver. Tears streaming down her face, she lifts the bib to find that a breathing tube is already coming out of her mother's mouth. She whispers "I love you, Mom." Barely audible, her mother whispers the same and her eyes close. Dead. She thinks that there is a little girl in the back seat, but can't get back there to find out.

She sits up straight in bed. It was only dream. Just a dream. No one is dead and there was no crash. No dogs. No Dad kneeling over something in the yard. No screams. No impaired child thrashing on the floor. It was just a dream. Nothing horrible has happened. All is right with the world. It's all over. She's awake now.

And this is why she hates to dream.

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Job

I enjoy my job a great deal. Actually, I really love my job. My job centers around children and education, but I also get to work behind the scenes or in the spotlight with the various productions that the Springer puts on. I am going to talk about both parts of my job, but today I am going to focus on one aspect of it.

I am doing my "day job" in the Academy office, but I am also working on "A Tuna Christmas" in Foley Hall. For those of you who do not know much about this show, Ron Anderson and Paul Pierce play about twelve characters a piece, men and women, adults and children. It is pretty darn funny. There are three stage hands back stage. I am one of them and Kern C. and Ben R. finish out the team. We have the most fun with the show when Ron and Paul are having a good time. I can't explain the feeling that I get when Ron or Paul walk off stage laughing to themselves about what happened on stage, the audience's reaction to what happened on stage, or both. The fact that they enjoy their job makes me enjoy mine so much more.

I found the same to be true when I was working on "Father of the Bride." Ron Anderson directed the show and his obvious enjoyment of the show and the people in the show made the experience all the richer.

I have been a part of Springer productions for the past ten years and I have always felt safe, loved, and cared for. Paul has a saying that I love to hear; "The first time you're here, you're a guest. The second time, you're family." How true that is.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Praising God in all you do.

Psalm 148

1 Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD from the heavens,
praise him in the heights above.

2 Praise him, all his angels,
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.

3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars.

4 Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.

5 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for he commanded and they were created.

6 He set them in place for ever and ever;
he gave a decree that will never pass away.

7 Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,

8 lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,

9 you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,

10 wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,

11 kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,

12 young men and maidens,
old men and children.

13 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.

14 He has raised up for his people a horn,
the praise of all his saints,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.
Praise the LORD.

Our sermon this morning was based on this passage of scripture. I thought that my pastor did an excellent job of explaining it's meaning and I want to share.

The psalmist talks about how each part of creation praises God by existing in the manner in which He created them to exist. As Pastor Douglas put it, the same goes for humans. We praise God and glorify Him by doing what He created us to do to the best of our ability and in His name. It is so simple. According to the shorter catechism, man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. I believe that God gave each of us unique gifts and ways in which to glorify and praise Him. So, whether you are a dentist, actor, plumber, lawyer, real estate agent, student, or a stay at home mom, God has given us each the opportunity and ability to praise Him. That is why He created us. To glorify and enjoy Him forever. I think that the beauty of the gospel is the simplicity of it's message. Whatever we do, it should be done in God's name and to the best of our ability.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Decorating at the Garcia House

There is most definitely a method to the holiday madness in the Garcia home. Everything from picking out the tree to the last bell on the fireplace is dictated by tradition and me. Ok, so maybe not me, but pretty close.

Let's start with the tree. All the kids and my mother will tell you that I usually pick out the tree. And I do. Pretty much every year. However, this year, Mary Lou picked it out. It took a long time and I mean a VERY long time to pick out this year's tree. There was another couple picking out their tree at the same time and the man came up to my mom and said "My gosh, it's like the U.N." My mom just smiled and said "You have no idea."

Next comes the actual decorating. The first thing on the agenda is to push the couch and Dad's chair back and turn them around to face the tree. Let me just go ahead and say that Dad does not do much in the way of decorating. He just sits back and bites his tongue as we take over.

After moving furniture around, the next thing is the lights which Jess and I do. This happens with very little bickering between the two of us. Ben wanted to help with the lights, but we put him in charge of the berries and various other strands of random goodies. He and Katie ended up doing those.

While the lights and berries were going on the tree, Caroline and Mary Lou were going through the ornaments and separating them by child into piles on the floor. This way all we had to do was grab our ornaments. Again, tradition is key here, people.

With the lights and ornaments on the tree, it's time for the Angel. Dad had this angel before he and Mom got married. The Angel has it's own little box and on the box her FULL name is written. By full name, I mean Naomi Suzanne Louise Elizabeth Ann. Those are the middle names of all the girls in our family. Each year, someone else gets to put the angel on the tree. However, with eight of us, that means you get to do it every eight years. Katie did it this year, Ben is next year, and that means that I get to do it in 2010. Go me.

The next step is to turn the lights in the living room off and plug the lights on the tree in. Dad's only real job is to say his one line. The line goes like this: "This is the prettiest tree we have ever had!" Every year, same thing.

We finish up with cookies and hot chocolate. Pictures to come soon.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Reason for My Faith

For you formed my inward parts, you knit me
together in my mother's womb. I praise You, for You are
fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are Your works! You know
me well; my frame was not hidden from You, when I was
being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of
the earth. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance; in Your
book were written, every one of them, the days that were
formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How
precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum
of them!

Psalms 139:13-17

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

I am sitting on my bed in my favorite pajama pants. They are canary yellow. Bright, beautiful yellow.

The words that I want to say don't want to come out right now. My head is pounding from crying so much. I haven't cried that much in a very long time. Horrible things happening to children does that to me. Injustice, oppression, ignorance, and hatred do that to me. I am talking about a film called "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas." I just returned home from seeing this film. I knew going into it that I was going to have a difficult time. My mother and all of my friends told me to be prepared for the horrific nature of the subject matter. All through the previews all I could say was that I was nervous. And I was. Still, I had no idea how moved I would be.

I don't want to give away anything for those of you who have not seen this brilliant movie, however, I do want to touch on several moments or realizations that jumped out at me.

  1. Children are not born with prejudices. These are taught to them by their parents and those around them who have the power to influence their impressionable minds.
  2. Children forgive easily. Their best friend can betray them in the worst way, whether it be tattle-tailing or much worse, and friendship still prevails.
  3. No matter how much "duty" calls, God gave us, as fallen and warped as we are, the ability to distinguish the difference between right and wrong.
  4. Racism exists in many forms and although some are unfamiliar to us in today's world, the impact need not be lost. History repeats itself and we should be mindful of the mistakes of the past so that we can prevent it from happening again.
  5. Hatred is overpowering and disgusting. It is something else that children are not born with. It takes adults to teach that lesson.
I have been noticing the power of racism and closed-mindedness a great deal in my own life . From those who dislike someone for the color of their skin to those who cannot tolerate the religious or political views of those around them. Prejudices are harmful to people and the relationships shared by those people. The holocaust happened because someone thought that a certain race was unfit for our world. Racism. Someone thought that they were better than someone else because of the color of their hair, eyes, and facial features. Someone thought that they were superior because they were "Christians" and not Jewish. Because they were light skinned and not olive toned. Because they were German and not a decedent of Jacob. How is this any different than today? Don't some people think that they are better than those who have a darker colored skin? Or because they worship God and not Allah? Or because they are a Republican or Democrat? Doesn't it sound the same? Don't we hate based on the differences we see in others? Don't we discriminate against those who are different than us or those who think differently? This is what started the greatest massacre of the human race that the world has ever known. Hate. Discrimination. Ignorance. Arrogance. Not understanding someone and what they believe does not warrant hatred or racism.

There is no excuse for the intolerance of someone based on the color of their skin, the religion they practice, or the political view they hold. Especially in a country where the rights to free speech, freedom of religion, and the equality of all men has been handed to this generation, and the past several generations, on a silver platter. Perhaps that is the problem. Perhaps not having to fight for our voices to be heard and the ability to practice the religion of our choice has made us numb to the stories of the past and problems of the present. What happened over seventy years ago in Europe can not be reversed or changed, but we can prevent it from happening again. The best place to start is at home. Inside yourself. Working to understand one another and loving your neighbor as you love yourself regardless of varying view points. We are called to do unto others as we would have others do unto us. There are no "ifs", "ands", or "buts."

Do you want to be persecuted because you are Mexican, Catholic, Asian, African-American, Republican, Jewish, German, Moderate, Muslim, Democrat, Christian, or just plain old American?

I didn't think so.

Friday, December 05, 2008

More Christmas Clues

  • Finals
  • The fact that the library is crammed with students
  • The Financial Aid office is less helpful than usual
  • Looks of stress, worry, and misery on the face of every college student in America
  • The fact that my usual bed time hits 1 or 2 am because of all-nighters

Not the most cheerful clues, but clues all the same. These same clues work for signs of summer as well. One more week and I am home free for several weeks. Praise Jesus.

Two tests down. Two more tests and one research paper to go.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Nobody Knows It But Me

There’s a place that I travel

when I want to roam

and nobody knows it but me.

The roads don’t go there

and the signs stay home

and nobody knows it but me.

It’s far far away and way way afar.

It’s over the moon and the sea.

And wherever you’re going

that’s wherever you are

and nobody knows it but me.

-Patrick O'Leary

The Story behind the poem-

The director was Eric Saarinen. The actress was photographer Sally Gall. James Garner recited the poem. Art Director Brad Neeley had the idea. We shot it in the Yukon and British Columbia. I’m the poet. Yes, it was the poem on that Chevy Tahoe commercial that came out in the fall of 2002. No, you didn't hear it when you were a child. Your Grandmother didn't read it to you. Or your Grandpa or your Dad. But I know what you mean: it was written to capture that childlike carefree sense of wonder and adventure. And Mr. Garner gave it a soothing sitting-on-your-poppa's-lap sort of feeling. People loved the spot. They really loved the poem. They found it hauntingly familiar. Was is Robert Frost? Robert Louis Stevenson? Walt Whitman? They were amazed and skeptical to hear it was written by an advertising copywriter from Detroit. I got dozens of emails and letters and phone calls. So did GM. Newspapers were flooded with queries about the poem. Radio stations, too. For a few months it seemed that everyone in America was wondering about it. What happened next was weird in the extreme. People made Christmas cards of the poem. People put it on their office walls. Sent it as a valentine. Insisted on House Silence whenever the commercial played. It gave a unique comfort to people. Cancer patients read it in the hospital. Lonely people found great solace in the words. A middle-school class memorized it and recited it. Dozens of discussion groups online chatted it up. A grammy-award-winning composer wrote a song to the lyrics. So did a bluegrass band. One woman did a beautiful cross stitch of the poem. It is on my office wall. Today, some five years later I still get the occasional email about it. It’s strange to be swept up in such a cultural phenomenon. It's very humbling to have moved so many so deeply.