Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Firsts

2012 Firsts


A couple times throughout the year, I found myself thinking, “Wow, that’s the first time this has ever happened/I have ever done this/I have ever seen this.”  So, I thought it was a good “blog topic”---something for me to sit down and consciously spend time thinking about and forming into words.  Let’s see what comes out:

It all started with December 26, 2011, the day I purchased my first car.  A 2012 Chevy Sonic, white in color, small in size, excellent in gas mileage.  I know that this day was truly the beginning of my 2012, and my new life. 

Since my birthday is in the month of December, I think it’s appropriate for me to consider my years as December through December.  So, let’s go with that. 

When I came home with my new car (Ellsworth, Kansas at the time), it started a whole new set of conversations between myself and my significant other; real, tough, hard questions about whether our relationship was truly where we wanted it to be, whether each one of us was happy…those kinds of questions.  This conversation has continued all year, in various forms. 

Because of these conversations, January 2012 was a month of preparation for me to move out on my own.  For the first time in my life, I was researching apartments and houses to live in.  It was a scary experience.  I’m a very detail-oriented person, which is a nice way to say I absolutely need to feel in control of everything at all times, and so it was challenging for me to embark on an adventure I’d never been on before.  January was a month of research on the computer, phone calls to landlords, and physical visits to houses to check them out.  It was also the first month that I spent of my life commuting to work in my own vehicle.  At the end of January, I moved to Salina, Kansas.  I was already familiar with Salina, as it is 15 miles from where I went to college, and is always where I’d gone to church; “My whole life was in Salina”, as I was accustomed to saying, so the relocation merely felt like me accepting god’s will for me. 

February 2012 was the first month I made a car payment.  It was also the first time I’d lived in someone’s basement, and the first time I had a roommate outside of college (didn’t consider my significant other a “roommate”).  February also marked the first time I spent a night in Salina, not in a hotel.  February 8, 2012 was the first session of my first “real” bible study: a group of women all gathered with the same books in hand, willingly gathered to learn more about the Bible.  The study was a Beth Moore one, on the book of James.  It was called “James: Mercy Triumphs”.  I am convinced that this study could not have come at a more perfect time for me.  I was so emotionally exhausted and fighting off depression and anxiety at all times from my move and physical separation from my loved one.  I knew that if I let my focus shift or wander, or if I let my motivation dwindle, or let my mind feel sorry for itself, I would soon be headed into a dangerous tailspin (it had happened before, my junior year of college; a topic for another time).  I didn’t want to go there again.  So, I conveniently found something, a group to join, for every night of the week, a desperate attempt to keep my mind occupied at all times and only allow myself to go home to my miserable basement with enough time to get ready for bed and pass out for the night.  But my James study revealed so much to me; James is my first “favorite” book of the Bible. 

From my James study, comes another 2012 first: the first time I memorized any scripture (purposefully).  Part of the James study includes the challenge to memorize the whole book.  I’m still working on it, but I have mastered the entire first two chapters.  I also recited an entire chapter of a book of the Bible out loud to a friend for the first time during February.  (I lived in this basement through the end of June 2012.  It was only five months, but at times it felt like it would never end (more on that another time).)

I then spent weeks preparing for my first ever Sondra Miller-Emmanuel Foursquare Church Easter production, which by default, ended up being my first time performing on the Steiffel Theatre stage in Salina (awesome!!).  Easter was April 8th.  I also participated in my first Messiah Festival for Bethany College during which I was commuting from Salina for rehearsals, and it was my first Easter preparing for and participating in two Easter productions simultaneously. 

May 2012, was my first trip home (out West, Arizona) by myself since 2008.  It was the first trip I took home “just to visit”, in my adult life, not on a “break” from school, but on a “vacation” by myself, the working young adult.  Much of the purpose of the trip was to see my sister graduate from college, so this was also the first time I got to see my sister graduate from college.  J

In June, I ran in my first competitive run outside of organized school athletics; my first “on-my-own” race.  It was also the first time I went to the Salina Riverfest (good food, expensive jewelry).  June also marked the beginning of my lease at my very first apartment, all by myself, on my own.  No roommates, no boyfriend; just me, and eventually, my cat.  So, June included the first night I spent alone in a place all of my own.  Ever.

June 22nd was Jodi’s first birthday after having graduated from college, and it was the first time I ever sang karaoke by myself.  It was also the first time we had a bonfire at church on the new front patio area. 

My first concert at the Bicentennial Center in Salina was on August 25th.  It was Alan Jackson. 

This past summer included lots of firsts for which I don’t have specific dates, including:

  • First time running on the dike in Salina
  • First time parking at the church and taking off on a run from there
  • Frist time running on South Middle School’s track
  • First time doing a live Zumba class (Extravaganza at Genesis Health Club)
  • First time having shaved ice at Sno-Wizard in Salina
  • First time driving to a WV event on my own (Topeka Regionals)
  • First time looking up at the sky through a telescope, and seeing Venus transit the sun
  • First motorcycle ride, and first time in many of the tiny towns we rode through on the back roads on that ride
  • First time playing pool at Big Nose Kate’s in Salina and eating at Legends Bar & Grill
  • First time eating at Cotija’s in Salina
  • First time shopping at Sunset Dillons and Baby Dillons (which, sadly, closed)
  • First time watching the movie “Footloose”
  • My first dance class (“Devotion in Motion” with S’ambrosia)


Post-summer, the firsts continued.


  • First time making it to one year at a job after college
  • First time renting movies from Family Video in Salina
  • First time drinking coffee regularly
  • First time eating lox  
  • First time drinking homemade beer
  • First time visiting Rock City in Minneapolis, Ks
  • First time running on Ohio and Markley Streets in Salina
  • First time visiting the Salina YMCA
  • First time working a part-time job “just because” (didn’t last long)
  • First time attending a show at the Salina Community Theatre (“Footloose”)


And, other random firsts I cannot otherwise categorize (or am tired of trying to come up with categories for):

  • First time participating in women’s groups at church (Rachel, Nikki, Kristy)
  • First time attending a bible study with the “older gals” at Joy’s house
  • First time attending bible study with Jennifer’s church group
  • First time helping out and being a part of Anthem Youth Group at church
  • First time I visited Ad Astra books and coffeehouse!!
  • First time visiting White Peacock coffeehouse in Lindsborg, KS
  • First time I played racquetball
  • First time visiting Salina Animal Shelter
  • First time having a “regular dentist” and going for a cleaning since age 8
  • First root canal (at specialist in Newton, KS)
  • First time going to an American oral surgeon (wisdom teeth)
  • First time playing put-put golf in the mall in Salina
  • First time being exposed to “The Hobbit”
  • First time I went to a movie all by myself (“Pitch Perfect”)
  • First time I visited a friend’s house who lives “on the Hill” in Salina
  • First time going garage-saling in salina
  • First time visiting thrift stores in Salina
  • First time driving by myself from Tucson to Yuma
  • First time driving around and looking at Christmas lights in Salina (with Gloria)
  • First Kansas “family” Christmas with Mattisons
  • First time my sorority had a line of ONE cross (Headstrong)
  • First time I hiked at Lakewood park, and at Indian Rock (got stuck on the hill)

 This is the first year I write a “Firsts” blog; one of my goals for 2013 is to do this on a more regular basis, maybe sit down once a month and think really hard and get them all out, that way I can be sure I don’t miss any, because I’m sure I’ve missed a couple for this year.  It makes me a little sad, to think that there are some memories that are lost forever.  I see each memory as an integrally important piece of my soul... I hate to think that I let any of those pieces go unnoticed.  Here’s to 2013 being a year of noticing the subtle and magical things that make life what it is. 







Sunday, December 9, 2012

Attitude of Abundance, Part I

So I’ve been attending Tuesday night dinner at the Rivers’ house.   The Rivers are a family from church; they started opening their home every Tuesday night and feeding a bunch of us young, 20-somethings who have jobs, but no kids and big families, who might get lonely sometimes, and don’t get the privilege of sitting around a family dinner table too often.  It has been so nice getting to know them better and it’s been such a blessing and allowed to grow in my trust for God’s provision for my life.  So many things have come of these Tuesday night dinners, among them this new attitude I have of abundance.  Abundance is a theme at the Rivers house; the word is on all the walls, books, mantels, and tables around. 

And now, I’ve found another writing subject: ABUNDANCE

So, one Tuesday night, Debbie was telling us about how she wanted to put together this “Random Acts of Kindness” Party.  She talked to us a little bit about her idea: several of us would gather and collect items to give away, take a very limited amount of money with us, accept little gift packets from other folks who wanted to share, get in a car, and drive around Salina for a couple of hours.  It would be an adventure to drive around Salina with an open mind and an open heart to see what the Lord wanted us to do to bless someone else that day.  She got the “Ooooh, I want to participate!” from several of us (girls – just sayin’), and so we set a date.

The morning of our “party”, we gathered in Debbie’s living room at 10 am.  We divided up all our supplies between two cars; little gift packets of popcorn and soda; envelopes with encouraging cards and packets of hot chocolate mix inside; laundry packets with quarters and little detergents; 4 dolls to give away to little girls.  The idea was to think outside the box.  We had a designated amount of money so that we wouldn’t feel pressured to provide only blessings that cost us money; it could be as simple as giving people rides or carrying groceries.  We split up into a “young” team and an “old” team, and off we went.

I was designated the driver for the “young” vehicle, which was cool, because I love to drive.  I said, “Okay ladies- so where am I going?” and we took off in the direction of the North end of town.

Our first stop was the library, and it was not a success.  We politely asked the librarians if we could leave her some of the pop/popcorn packages to hand out to families who borrowed movies from the library, and she turned us down because some of our cards read “God bless you.”  Talk about disappointing.

But, we would not be deterred!

The fire station is right across the street, so we ran across, and handed the packages to some firefighters instead.  Success!

Then we discussed where to head next.

Jenna had a specific trailer park in mind.  We drove through, looking for something that we could call a sign from God pointing us in the correct direction.  We saw one lady in a yellow coat walking; but we had already passed her, so we kept driving. In the trailer park, we saw a lady walking around looking very distressed, and we decided she was our first “bless-ee”; so one of us hopped out of the car and handed her a little box of chocolates that was in our giveaway stash.  We didn’t see much of anything else in the parking lot, other than a couple of cats, which of course gave us the idea to bring pet supplies on a future “party”. 

Back on the road, we noticed a young couple with two small children playing at the park; we stopped and gave them some of our individually-packaged cupcakes.  They thanked us with smiles. 

While Katie and Jessica delivered cupcakes, Jenna noticed her lady in the yellow coat continuing to walk in our direction! So she hopped out of the car and walked toward her to start a conversation.  Once Katie and Jessica got back in the car, we drove over to where Jenna informed us that we were giving this lady a ride.  The lady talked about how she had had a very bad night and had been in a fight with her boyfriend who “had a knife to her throat” the night before.  We took this lady back to the trailer park we were at just minutes before.  We gave her cupcakes for her and for her daughter, who she was on her way to see.  She thanked us by saying, “I wish everyone was this nice.”

We decided we wanted to hit up Walmart next, which is on the south side of town.  We were right by the I-70, so we decided to hop on the interstate.  On our way to do so, we drove past a truck stop/travel station/gas station.  We noticed a man carrying a duffel bag walking towards the store.

“Gilda! Turn around! Flip a U-ey!”

So of course, I did (legally, of course).

What we found were two “travelers” sitting on a bench outside the store.  I had five dollars in my pocket from the night before, so I went with Katie and Jessica, who together asked one of the men if they could get him anything from inside.  They took him, and I took the other one.  They bought their guy a cup of soup and a pop, while mine just wanted a fountain drink.  They thanked us by saying, “You’ve done enough, young lady.”

On our way out of the store, we ran into Jenna who had started chatting with a few other “travelers”.  They asked us if we knew of any place they could get a gas voucher, as they were trying to make it to Missouri (they did not ask us for money).  Katie said, “Pull your car up to the pump; I’ll go get my credit card.”  And she filled their tank.  There was a carfull of them, with two dogs as well.  They thanked us with hugs and high-fives.

So, back into the car, and actually onto the interstate we went.  Each time we loaded back in, there was always a couple seconds of reflective silence as each one of us thought about the person we’d just helped.  It was neat to talk about what we had just done and feel our collective compassion for each group of folks we encountered.

We arrived at Walmart, and our first task was gathering carts from the parking lot to take into the store.  We then split up the coupons that were in our stash, and took off in opposite directions to place the coupons next to the items they were for.  We also noticed that the frat from K-State Salina was holding a food drive, so Jessica spent some of our cash and some of her own to buy some items and a can opener, which the boys happily accepted.  We also left baggies of quarters on candy machines and rides for the kids, with notes saying “Enjoy”.

We counted Walmart as a success, and continued our journey.  We decided we wanted to hit a laundrymat, so we picked the one on Iron street, Speedy Wash.  On our way there, we noticed people on the sidewalks, outside of shops and stores.  We got out of the car and handed out the rest of our soda and hot chocolate envelopes, and I scared a mail-lady by running up to her yelling, “Wait!”   When she acknowledged me, I said, “We wanted you to have this” and handed her the popcorn package.  She thought it was very sweet of us.

We all went into the Laundromat and placed our baggies of quarters and detergents, and handed out more cupcakes to the patrons.  On our way back up Iron, while we were heading back to the house, we noticed we still had the two dolls, and that we hadn’t found anyone to give them to yet.  Just then, we noticed “Little girls! Little girls!” coming out of a tattoo shop with what seemed to be their parents.  We pulled over and Katie and Jessica ran out with the dolls and some more packages for the adults.  Jenna and I got to watch the reactions of the little girls who received the dolls. 

Mission accomplished, we headed back to the house and had lunch with the “old” team and traded stories. It was a really unique, liberating way to spend a few hours.