Tuesday, 4 December 2012

This Past Year

I sit back on the couch, a steaming cup of joe in hand, reflecting on the past year. I didn’t know you could grow so much in just one year. It doesn’t seem to be very long, it’s gone by so fast, but on the other hand, I packed in a lot of stuff into my year. It seems the older I get, the busier I am. Isn’t there a part of us that longs for the quiet life, in the country, away from society, waking up in the morning to the sound of birds, cows in the pasture, and a day ahead of you, stress free, doing farm chores and garden work. Sit on your front porch rocking chair, coffee in hand, and take in the beauty. Don’t we all want that at some point? Don’t we all long for the easy life, one of prosperity, relative wealth, and relaxation. But that’s not what the christian life is, necessarily. God calls us to a life of hardship, take up our cross and follow him, go through pain, suffering and trials. The Christian life is not an easy one, it is one that will involve sacrifice, suffering and loss. For through these things you will experience and grow closer to God than you could have ever done living the good life. True, some of us will get an easier life, enjoying more of God’s material blessings, while others will live and die in poverty. I am no man’s judge, I will not say that one man is better than another, who knows what calling God has called you to, it is not for me to decide. We are to enjoy God’s blessings, not cast them away, they are a taste of heaven. The quiet life I described to you? That is a taste of heaven. The wonderful material blessings you receive? Those are a taste of heaven. The sweet fellowship with the saints? That is a taste of heaven. It is hard to see God’s plan for us, this side of heaven. We don’t know exactly what He’s doing with us. But He is a good God, and a righteous God. One who will love His children, and care for them, hold our hand when we walk through storms and valleys. ‘And if our God is with us, then who can stand against us?’ to quote a song that comes to mind. So I look back over the year, and see God working in me through everything, bringing me closer to Him, showing me more of Him, and showing me more of myself.

January, twenty twelve. The most prominent thing that comes to mind when I think back on that month was Musical Theater rehearsals. We had lots of those, and I have many fond memories of it. I was a senior, and it was my last semester. 

February. Our Musical Theater production happened the second week of February, and when it was done and over, I was sad. It was my last time, and first time to do Musical Theater; although I’ve done Drama and Improv classes and such since I was 10. 

March. The weather was quite mild, as it had been all winter. I was planning for a trip to Ireland with two of my siblings, my cousin, a friend, and my Uncle. The trip began the third week of March, flying over into Dublin. I had an amazing time, getting know everyone on the trip just a little bit better, cooking, sight seeing, playing games, watching films, shopping, drinking in pubs. It was an awesome trip, the second time I’d been out of the USA. It ended the second week of April.

April came in mild, but we ended up getting a late frost, which damaged about 90% of North Carolina apple production, meaning prices were up for the year. April was a fun month, I did a small garden, and work at the Stone Table Restaurant was quite fun.

May came, a busy month for us. I was trying to finish up school, and we had our Choir Concert in May. My last concert, I was quite sad when it was over. I went to Covenant College and saw my oldest brother graduate. I had a music night at the Stone Table, raising money for our Peru Mission Trip, and coincidentally marked the last day for the Stone Table Restaurant. It was sad, not seeing Matthew Sganga (restaurant owner and chef) every day, making jokes, learning more tips in the kitchen, break dancing, you’d be hard pressed to ask for a better boss!

June. The first week of June I went to the Biblical Worldview Student Conference. My third year going. My brother Josiah came back from a year over seas studying at Lampeter in Wales, bringing a friend. It was a great reunion. The end of June was our Peru Trip. It was wonderful seeing God work through us their, not only seeing change in them, but change in us. You have to go on a Mission Trip with the mindset of you being changed as much or more than the people you’re ministering to.

July. When we weren’t playing games day and night we were enjoying the summer air. July 7 was my graduation and my going away party. It was great to have my Matthew Sganga give me a charge, and have so much fun with all my friends. A week later I drove to Maryland to begin an adventure, farm life. Life at Rocklands Farm was new, and the first week was learning how to do chores, where everything was, how to do things, all fun, not missing my family much. After one week my family picked me up and we spent a week of vacation in Maine, with my moms family, we had an amazing time with cousins! 

August. I came back and spent another three weeks working, before coming back for one more week of vacation in GA with my other cousins. By about week 5-6 I was quite homesick. Mostly it was knowing that my brother was home for the summer, and that he would leave to go back to Wales before I got back. My family is everything to me, growing up in a family of nine kids, someone is always doing something at some point. I’ve come to enjoy that, crave that. It is so much fun to be able to play almost any game almost any time because you always have someone to play it with. Cooking is fun because it is for 11 people. At the farm it was very different. I had my own room in the barn where I slept, but I don’t like being alone, not because I’m scared, I just prefer to be living with other people, so I much preferred with any time I had to hang out at the house where Joel and Megan hung out and Greg and Anna lived. I learned what it is like to live away from your family, being the first time in my life I’d been away for more than a couple weeks. I drew closer to God through my time being away. I learned a lot about myself, who I was. What I am without my family, you learn to find another side to you, or else to step forward and continue who you are. 

September. I still had 5 weeks to go, though I managed a weekend trip down to my family the weekend before my brother left for Wales. It was packed with fun and no sleep, and a memory I cherish. I came back and had renewed vigour, especially with the weather turning cooler. It’s hard to do anything outside when it’s upper 90Fs. At the end of September my cousin came up to the farm and was a great asset to the farm as well as me. I was much more motivated to work, and we had many good talks and lots of time together. 
October. I finished my time at the farm, and at the end, I was sad to leave. The farm had finally become another home to me, the garden, the animals, the daily chores of milking the goats and feeding chickens, the kitchen, the couch. But I was glad to be back as well, and managed to squeeze in some plants before too late in my own garden.

November. I spent my time at home doing a lot of cooking and cleaning, and some chaperoning of my younger siblings. I worked with my dad and got a coffee CSA going, further moving sales in my coffee business. We had an amazing Thanksgiving with family in GA. A true taste of heaven. I also got the lead male role in the Musical Theater production. The lead was taken out and I was the only choice for the director. So now I am in Little Women. I am having an absolute blast, learning lines, songs, and dancing. It still amazes me that I would get the lead male role, still hard to fathom some times. We serve an awesome God! Our production will be in February again.

December. Well, I can’t tell you what has happened, but I can tell you my plans. Josiah comes back for Christmas break on the 11th, and will be here till the 2nd of January. Seth, my cousin and maybe some of his siblings will fly here as well, on the 14th of December for a few days. It will be a blast, late nights, games, talks, we will make some great memories! Christmas will be just our family, somewhat quiet. I’ll do a turkey, one that I got from the farm I worked at, which will be fun. We will also see Les Mis, a film we are all waiting to see with great anticipation!

I’m trying not to think too far in the future, because I get sad or depressed. I’m trying to take one step at a time. I’ve grown so much closer to God in the past year, it is amazing. I’m trying to enjoy the moment you’re in, because they don’t last forever. I know I serve a God who will do exactly what is best for me, so I’m trusting Him, though, I still find it hard at time to be fully convinced of His goodness. I’m not perfect, but I try to be honest, with myself, and God. I am trying to read more books, and write more too. I’ve started my list of 1000 gifts, things I’m thankful for. I started yesterday and I’m up to 74. I started reading A Praying Life, and find it so good. I am planning to read more of C.S. Lewis and some John Piper, as well as my tradition of LotR at Christmas time. When all is said and done, it’s time to keep on keeping on, a new year comes our way.

English Vintner

100 of 1000 Gifts

  1. The early morning
  2. The sunrise, array of colour
  3. Coffee, steaming hot and fresh
  4. Ability to sleep so well
  5. Strong body, no injuries or afflictions
  6. Cleaning, instant gratification
  7. A warm house in Winter
  8. Music, in general
  9. Singing
  10. Lord of the Rings, the books
  11. Wine
  12. Wood floors
  13. Mugs, the ceramic hand made kind
  14. Shelves, wooden with the bark still on
  15. Decorations, pine needles, oranges, and the like
  16. Dark blue jeans
  17. Thermos, keeping my coffee and tea hot for house
  18. Wine glasses, they just add such elegance
  19. Wooden crates, I love the rustic touch they add
  20. Good pots, nothing like good cooking equipment for a chef ;)
  21. Hand crafted pottery
  22. Pictures, in general
  23. Sharp pencils
  24. iPods
  25. Headphones/ear buds
  26. Mist, in the early morning
  27. Crackling leaves in the Autumn
  28. Catan, one of my all time favorite games, ever
  29. My amazing sister, Londa. Pretty, beautiful inside and out, someone I’ve learned SO much from. I wouldn’t be who I am today without her. Theater is so much more fun with her. Amazing, humorous, gifted. I love you.
  30. Apple cider, spiced or cold
  31. Champion Juicer, it does so much
  32. Coffee grinder, hand crank and burr electric
  33. Home remedies
  34. Tea, herbal, black, chai, the whole range, I love it
  35. Late nights
  36. Stars, cold clear nights, when I can see constellations 
  37. James Shafer, an amazing theater teacher, and part of who I am today is because of him, I love you James!
  38. Sharp knives, kitchen or other
  39. Gardening, I love the dirt, the plants, it draws me to it
  40. Plants
  41. Emotions, adrenaline rushes and the like
  42. Girls
  43. Pickup Trucks
  44. Friends
  45. Youth Group, my YG is amazing and I’m so blessed to have such great leaders
  46. Gourds and Fall decorations
  47. Candles
  48. Corks
  49. Window glass panes
  50. Grapefruit
  51. Log homes
  52. Tasha, our dog
  53. Irish wool sweater 
  54. Irish tweed hat
  55. Silver water, that wonderful healing drink
  56. Mattiniah, my youngest sibling who is so funny and makes me laugh every day. I love you GG.
  57. Shot glasses, the wonderful engravings upon them
  58. Squirrels, so fun to watch
  59. Wood smoke, it will always make it feel like Fall when I smell it, one of my all time favorite smells, ever.
  60. Green shoes, real leather and italian, I can’t wear them without someone commenting on them
  61. Quiet moments to reflect on, such as now
  62. My Church, I don’t agree with everything, but I love the people there
  63. Sleep, the blessed medium between night and day
  64. Simple truths, through the mouths of babes
  65. The Bible, what a blessing it is to read and learn from
  66. Milk kefir, fermented milk, what gets better?
  67. Blankets
  68. Fire, the smell, the look, it is truly amazing the affect it has on homo sapiens
  69. Computers, so convenient for so many different things
  70. Books, in general
  71. Warm clothes to wear when it’s cold
  72. Eggnog
  73. No sleep, because I am so much more emotional when I am, and I like it call me emo. . .
  74. Carcassonne, that wonderful game that can involve my younger siblings as well
  75. Reflection, looking back over the past year 
  76. Devotions, the quiet time with God
  77. The song Solution, by Hillcity United 
  78. Creativity, because it’s so much a part of who I am and what I do
  79. Cell phones, they truly make life easier today
  80. Prayer, talking to God
  81. Matthew Sganga, my former boss at the restaurant I worked at, truly a remarkable man, one I will always look up to and learn from
  82. Cooking, I feel SO at home the instant I step into a kitchen and start cooking
  83. Hair, it is amazing to me the different styles and what people put their hair through and it still holds up
  84. My family, because right now they are everything to me besides God
  85. Family meetings, I always find them quite enjoyable
  86. The sun, making each day new
  87. Clouds, because the best sunrises and sets have clouds
  88. Butter in my coffee, SO good!
  89. My mug from Ireland, reminding me of the 3 weeks I spent there
  90. Tea kettle, making hot drinks possible! ;)
  91. Blackavar, our cat, our relationship has not been easy, but I have learned to like you now, you are truly a beautiful cat
  92. Christmas trees, they create such great aura to the room
  93. The stillness on a quiet morning
  94. Cousins, because after my family, they are usually closest to me, my best friend is my cousin
  95. Tissues, or toilet paper in our house, they are so simple and yet so extravagant 
  96. Fresh water, something millions and millions of people live without
  97. Work, the ability to do physical labor, something I love with passion when I’m motivated
  98. Poinsettias 
  99. Writing down things I’m thankful for
  100. My Pastor, I learn so much from him and love hearing what he has to say

English Vintner