celebrating what is coming

The past is important in telling our stories, to understand where we’re at and why we’re there.

But tonight, I am not celebrating what’s ending . . . i am celebrating what is coming.  I don’t “do” new year’s resolutions, because a resolution is simply a goal–and goals need to be set and re-set frequently to make progress.

Today I closed off 2011 with my friend and former coworker, Sara, just one of many amazing people I experienced the joy of meeting in 2011.  We ate too many crepes and had an amazing time, and were ironically wearing the same Hollister hoodie in different colours, pink t-shirts underneath and brown jackets!  [I took mine off for the picture].

sara and i!

After making a final pharmacy trip for the year (gotta love breathing, yeah?), I came home to do a final workout to hit 800 kilometers for 2011.  To give some perspective on how much I’ve grown in regard to exercise and fitness in 2011, my total on December 31st, 2010 was a tiny 100 kilometers [which was upped to a legitimate 106 as I found later on that I had forgotten to count an April race in there].

That. Is. Huge.  The big change in 2011 came in September through the amazingness that was Physical Activity: Promotion and Adherence, definitely my favourite university class thus far, and really gaining the understanding that the SMALL things make a BIG difference!  Though an unintentional success attributed to making small changes and regulating physical activity, since mid-September [at my highest ever weight which may have been some sort of weird fluke] I have lost a total of 17 pounds.  I can’t say I felt “bad” before or anything, but comparatively, I feel totally awesome both physically and emotionally with the GOOD changes that have happened!

I’ve walked 213 km, stationary biked 143, and racked up hundreds of kilometers in commutes. I walked one race, went on a few short hikes, went on an adventure rock climbing this past week.  I played hockey both in my skates and in my Sauconies and skated down rivers.  I’ve played in concrete jungles and playgrounds.  This has been the most active year of my life, and I plan to strip that title away from 2011 and give it to 2012.

This year, I have reached farther than I thought I could, pushed my lungs and my body in bigger ways.  I started thinking about things differently, relationships changed and growing happened.  I did things I couldn’t believe I would or could succeed at.  
I got a new job at an amazing daycare.  I worked one-on-one at camp for a week, which was one of the biggest challenges and biggest joys simultaneously.  I have met so many amazing people in “real life” and online.  One of my best guy friends for a time became my first boyfriend and even though it mutually didn’t work out, it definitely did not damage our friendship, which was the most important thing to us.  I returned to Chicago.  I watched one of the girls I do inclusion with grow so much in where she’s at, while simultaneously realizing the growth in myself through her.  I have fallen more and more in love with the subject that is applied health.  I have changed my perspectives on health advocacy, become more involved, and continued to learn how to OWN my asthma and encourage others to do the same.  I have learned to better live with what I’ve been handed.  I have learned more deeply that health and wellness is a choice.  I have learned to see things differently, engage differently, and not just make goals, but meet goals and ENGAGE in these goals to use them as learning experiences.

I want to continue that next year.  Continue moving forward, continue proving myself wrong, continuing to grow and learn and thrive, not simply survive.

There is more goodness coming.  There is a year of hope, joy, change, growth, learning, and love ahead.

Bring it on 2012. GOOD THINGS!

12 of 12 – november ’11!

On the 12th of each month, a bunch of bloggers from around the world take 12 pictures throughout the day.  Here are my pictures for November 12th, 2011!

November is the time of year for my church’s annual youth retreat to a bible camp about two hours outside of the city.  I fall under the interesting category of “inclusion leader”, so I was one-on-one with a seventh grader [hereafter known as “the girlie”].  We met for the first time at last year’s retreat, but I also went to camp with her in the summer, so the two nights were a piece of cake and super fun!

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12:21 am – cabin room. The girlie is asleep on the top bunk, the bottom is mine [I moved on night two though, since the girlie and I had the room to ourselves!]

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7:50 am – cabin. One of those days — winter + my asthma = out for me.  Giving the girlie a few more minutes to sleep before waking her up a little before our 8 am wake-up time [since I know it will take her at least five minutes to actually get out of bed!]

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8:21 am – outside. Yeah, that’s what you want to see right when you get up.

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9:52 am – chapel. OH MY GOODNESS. ELISA AND I MATCH!! :]  COORDINATED LEADERNESS!  [Also, if you need an interior designer and you live near me, please hire her so she does not have to go back to Vancouver, as I will miss her if she does!]

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9:57 am – chapel. The grossest youth game ever.  In which an onion was passed like a hot potato, and participants had to take a bite of the onion when it stopped on them, or they had to sit down. Disgusting.

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1:40 pm – on the rocks. “Creation reveals Your majesty — from the colours of fall to the fragrance of spring, every creature unique in the song that it sings . . ” —Indescribable, Chris Tomlin

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3:12 – dining hall. Yeah, I can play Apples to Apples and Sorry! at the same time.  No big deal.  [Also, yet another 12 where I’m playing Apples to Apples!]

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3:57 pm – dining hall. The official design of the youth retreat.  Our church’s graphic designer is super talented and amazing!

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4:32 pm – cabin. Ready for the Awards Dinner.  This is my semi-rockstar outfit.  Because I don’t do formal.  The girls all looked amazing and all took like an hour and a half to get ready, it was super adorable.

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5:46 pm – dining hall. And the dinner prayer went “God, thank You for pizza.  Amen.”. [Probably some other stuff, too, but mostly it was about the pizza.]  Veggie pizza — I made a new vegetarian friend on the retreat, we met at a workshop on haters and some guy in his small group was jokingly making fun of him for not eating ribs, and he and I exchanged several high fives over how tofu sucks.

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10:23 pm – cabin. The girlie and I came back from chapel [way] early as she was just totally wiped out.  She fell asleep around 9:30, so I had like two-plus hours before I went to bed by myself.  So, i tweeted of my boredom, and Bob came to the rescue! :]

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10:46 pm – cabin. Since the girlie was asleep and I couldn’t leave for snack, the lovely Elisa brought me cookies back! <3  Camp makes super good cookies, these ones were white chocolate, Friday night’s were chocolate chunk.

12 of 12 was created by Chad Darnell.  Check out his blog to see a list of all September 12 of 12s.  Thanks, Chad, for dreaming up this awesome idea to connect people around the world, and for allowing us to infiltrate your blog space for another year!

love is louder than circumstance

You make all things work together for my good.

and if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us? [. . .] our God is healer, awesome in power . . .

 

I hear ignition in the words off her tongue.  I see the light in her eyes.

This IS the girl I knew last year, but the girl has grown.  I am seeing the change, seeing the love.  And I am blessed, amazed, astounded at the work that God is doing in this girl.

She’s sixteen, and has the beautiful trusting mind and relentless love of a five-year-old.  A glowing smile, and a hug every time we see each other.  And the above are a few of the choice lyrics that overflowed from her heart tonight during worship.

Last year she came but rarely engaged.  Worship was too crazy, too overwhelming for her, and on the bigger, busier nights, she’d often choose to stay home.  This year, I can’t even piece together what changed in her, except that God is doing amazing things through music in this girl.  She runs in every single week, finds me, gives me a hug and then holds onto my shoulders, jumps up and down and says “Kerri! Are we doing worship tonight?!”  And I am so, so happy every time that I get the opportunity to say “YES!”  And then she asks me repeatedly “How long until worship?”

The character of God is changing the character of this girl.  I love that when I least expect it, He opens my eyes through her in such a way that only a big, big, BIG God can do.

I am blessed.

I am blessed by her presence, her heart, her love, her perspective.  Her perception.  Seriously, she caught me tonight, figured out I was tired, and then after worship told me I needed to go home and go to bed.

I am blessed that through some path only an amazing God has created that our paths crossed, and I’m able to be a part of her world–I do one-on-one respite support for her at our youth events on Friday nights.  It’s something I never perceived happening when I signed up to be a youth leader, but it was definitely not an accident.  And it’s an amazing learning experience, not only in working with people with disabilities, but in life.

She opens my eyes every single time.

She teaches me how to trust.  How to engage when the moment is right for not everyone, but for me . . . as she does.  She teaches me how to open myself up to others . . . not for them to see more of me, but for me to see more of them.

She reminds me time and time again that LOVE is LOUDER than circumstance.