Tuesday 31 December 2013

13 in '13

As the year come to a close, it is fun to reflect on the last 12 months of my life.  I made a list of the thirteen things I learned, relearned, or continued to learn in 2013.

In no particular order.

1. People change, yet God still does not.
Of course, I have known that more than this year... But, it was a common theme this year. Even when people around me change (maybe for the good, maybe not ), but God is still faithful .
 I am also thankful, continually, that God is God... That I serve The One who is forever the same, but is changing me.

2.  Extend grace to myself.
Although I am not the perfectionist that I once was, I struggle with nothing ever being good enough, whenever I finish something, I spend time thinking about what was wrong and what could have been better. (Not always bad to do that, you know). But this year taught me (sometimes the hard way), that I can give myself grace the way I try to give it to others.

3. Live for the moment
Even though I need to think and plan the future, I can not let worrying about what is going to happen over shadow the present.

4. Take new risks.... by myself.
I have never had a hard time trying something new or being adventurous.... And I admit usually it's more fun with a friend. But when no one else is around, why not do something crazy alone. It usually won't kill me, but will make life more fun and make me more interesting. 

5. God isn't in a hurry, even when I think He should be.
His work belongs to Him. He sets the pace. He leads. He guides. He provides. I can not make Him go any faster than His will.

6. Be thankful.
Even when having a tough day/week. In the little things and the big. It is the clue for thriving in life instead of just surviving.

7. Sing in the shower so your neighbor can hear it, it's fun!

8. if you don't know... ASK! 
Don't go around assuming you know or understand something or someone. Also (almost) no question is stupid and you can always learn more. 
You know what people say about assuming.

9. Be good to my body.
Eat right, exercise, relax, sleep.... All make me feel better.

10. Excuses, don't use them.
With the exception of excuses like "my _____died" most excuses  are not legitimate and lame... For everyone involved. 'I don't know where to start', 'I'm tired', 'it's too hard'. They all usually mean,  'I am not making it a priority'

11. When in doubt, make an effort.
I will never regret doing something I think I should do but it might be a little scary. If I fail, at least I tried.

12. Take a day off.
When I stay in my pj's a bit longer, watch a movie, talk to friends on Skype. And do not allow myself to feel guilty about it.

13. Uncomfortable underwear ruin your day, so don't wear them. ;)

14. Set realistic goals
It's easy, for me, to set goals that are far fetched and unrealistic. But, that leads to disappointment and not getting anywhere. But setting realistic small goals aNd accomplishing them feels great.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Eight Reasons I Enjoy Christmas!

in no particular order...

Number One: Christmas Cards
Good Old fashion send-in-the-mail Christmas Cards. They show the families personalities and leaves me feeling closer the family and friends in the States. Plus there is usually a unwilling family member in the picture. The one who is crying, not looking, making a face or not dressed in the matching attire that was mapped out ahead of time. Always entertaining.

Number Two: Ugly Christmas Sweaters.
You know the ones that your grandma still wears but you secretly borrow for the party? Although I didn't get to participate in any ugly Christmas sweater parties this year.... I did see plenty of photos on facebook that kept me smiling.

Number Three: Tacky lawn decorations
Really the possibilities are ENDLESS. A giant inflatable santa clause that takes up a quarter of your lawn, a moving nativity scene, a giant snow globe, a few dozen extension cords that millions of lights are connected to, candy canes lining the path to the front door. Oh don't forget when you can sync music to your lights. You can turn your lawn into christmasy-winterwonderland-youcanseeitfromspace extravaganza. Not done to the extent around here that it is in the US. But, some of my favorite Christmas memories include driving around looking at christmas lights. (by the way,... my grandpa fills every inch of his lawn, beat that!)

Number Four:  Christmas Movies
Nothing says Christmas like HOURS of movie marathons. Including but not limited too---- White Christmas, Charlie Brown Christmas, Home Alone, miracle on 34th street, A Christmas story....... etc. Oh and don't you dare forget about the claymation christmas specials!

Number Five: Gift Exchange
Those famous white elephant gift exchanges. I have been to some that get dangerous. People are stealing peoples gifts, small kids getting the ONE thing they wanted taken away from them, but at the end everyone is laughing and having a good time. You  usually leave with something you have no use for, but thats not the point. Fun is the point, and that was accomplished. 

Number Six: Food!
Turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, salads, pies, cakes, egg not, candy canes, hot chocolate, mint everything... all the things that make you wish, at the end of the day, that jeans with elastic in the waist were still in fashion.

Number Seven: Friends and Family
Nothing like the holidays to remind you how truly blessed you are. Friends and family, all over the world, that you love. You may not get to see them very often, but they are a part of who you are and you miss them- especially at Christmas. I thank God for all the people He has brought into my life.

Number Eight: Jesus!
Best for last right? Jesus, the reason we even celebrate Christmas. Thank God for sending His son to this earth, to live among us and eventually die for us, lowly sinners. That, in and of itself, is a reason to love Christmas and have joy in our hearts.

Anyways... MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!!!!!!!

Friday 13 December 2013

christmas, riots and visas

This morning we had the privilege of going to a near by school and judging their English Christmas carol contest. I love doing it, every year! Some groups good, some... well, need a little work!

After breakfast with Rod and Mayra and letting out my doggies, operation get visa was in full swing. The way there was fairly easy, as i thought it would be for around noon! I had plenty of time to get where I was going so i thought i would swing by the Zocolo to see the Christmas decorations. First clue to NOT go was metro station was closed. I went on to Bellas Artes and walked down to the Zocolo.
The tree was pretty, and the sledding hill was being set up.

I went to the other side to take another picture, I thought it was strange to see all of the riot police set up, but ignored them and took my picture. BUT, when I turned around I was surrounded people going on a rampage... something about petroleum AND more were coming. I booked it out of there!  

And on to the office of immigration. Back to the Metro where I found protesters. Metro prices have gone from 3 pesos (20cents ish) to 5 pesos. And people are not happy! It took me 30 minutes to make my way through the thousands of protesters. They kept trying to get me to sign things, they were screaming and the police were literally looking the other direction. Strange. very strange. By the way, I TRIED to put the ticket i paid for into the machines but they weren't taking them.  I asked a "police" and he just told me to go. ok, i guess. 

Made it to the office of immigration to stand in line for about an hour! Fun =0) I actually met a guy who is from California. American, lives there with his wife and kids. He was talking about how he owns a skateboarding shop here, travels back and forth. After and hour of standing in line, I learned that he owns the skateboard shop in the mall less than a few miles from me. Small world. He had an interesting point of view on Christianity.
But, no fear, i have my visa now and a contact if i need any skateboards! =0)

Oh and it took 3 hours to get home. haha

Thursday 12 December 2013

December 12

Before the Christmas season "officially" begins on December 16, Mexicans celebrate the festivities of La Virgen de Guadalupe, Our Lady of Guadalupe, on December 12.    This is one of the most important dates in the Mexican calendar.  

 On this date, millions of  the faithful to Our Lady of Guadalupe,  from all over the country make the  pilgrimage  to the Basílica of Guadalupe, in Mexico City, where the image of the virgin is kept.

On the day before the great celebration, millions of people start to arrive.  Many of them make the trip by bicycle.  Trucks follow them to provide assistance. These riders, mainly men, tirelessly  riding their  bikes kilometer after kilometer, with their hearts set on seeing - our Lady of Guadalupe.Usually they have
either a statue or a framed picture of the virgin strapped to their backs.

Some of the people arrive crawling on their knees as a sign of devotion.

No matter how many times you see people passionately seeking approval from their false God, it still breaks your heart. THe fireworks and the parties have been happening for twenty four hours and I really doubt tonight is any different! 


Monday 9 December 2013

weddings and events.

Another busy weekend this weekend.

Two young people from our church got married!  It was a fun evening, a little cold, but a good time!

Sunday after church I took the youth to Neza for a youth event at another church. I had no idea what to expect but it ended up being good! Fun games, a good speaker and food...can't go wrong!
But, I however, was told it would be an hour event.... it was about 5 hours! hahahaha

I made it back for the last half hour of the Pastor Appreciation Dinner. 
I found out in the midst of the craziness yesterday that I needed to be at the Office of Immigration bright and early this morning. Nope didn't get my vias, but i did wake up to this view!

Thursday 5 December 2013

cookies, tamales, christmasy season

Today started off with a baking class: Christmas cookies!

Then it was tamale/ponche making party!!mmmmmm I wish you could smell them, so good. Maybe one day there will be scratch and sniff blogs. But for now, you will have to take my word for it. I wonder if I will ever be able to cook like these hard working ladies, and the answer is 'probably not'.

Then the closing ceremony after classes today. It was a successful block of classes, and so fun!
We ate tamales, all the classes were recognized, and Rod gave a great devo!

Now I even have poinsettia to tower over my festive christmas tree!

And I apparently need to spend more time with my dogs. One ate all the candy bags and i had to remake them all this afternoon AND the other broke a mug (I am actually pretty sad about this mug)

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Lots going on!

Let's see...an over due update (again).

Every year we (as a Camino family) head to Veracruz for a four day fellowship time and conference. This time, it was SO COLD! But, we still had a pretty good time, most of the kids swam even when they could see their breath, laughed a lot, played games, etc. etc.
Here is a picture of the ladies at the craft time!

We get back Friday from the conference and Saturday we have a 15 birthday party- bigger than most weddings here. Lots of work went into this party!

This week we are spending it getting ready for a wedding this weekend and the closing ceremony for the community center. But, spent the morning with the Fry family choosing a Christmas tree for their home. 

Have you ever been to a christmas tree farm with a view like this?

AND I even got a little tree too (I am not a grinch, see?!)

Oh and tonight was a craft class with the kiddos!