Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Out with the Old (2010) Part 2

January 1st always overwhelms me when I finally take the time to sit down and reflect on all that has happened during the past year. And I think that's where the problem starts... I don't take the time to reflect enough, throughout the year. Funny how, the thing that the EMU Education department drilled into me for four years, time and again, was to reflect... defines reflect as: to think, ponder or meditate.

January/February/March (Harrisonburg, VA)
The beginning of 2010 began as bleak as 2009 ended--in financial hardship, unemployment and many hours reading the Bible, praying and crying out to God for help, guidance and direction. The bright light in being unemployed, was in being able to help out with behind-the-scenes work with SVU, which included being around Nora and her family. I came to an intense appreciation of how much hard work goes into running a soccer club, and how much sacrifice it takes for both work, family and self. Nora was an unending wealth of information... both as a coach, mentor and a thoughtful friend. The four boys were always a pleasure to be around :)

April (Lancaster, PA)
Finally, I was able to land a job... back in my hometown of Pennsylvania. It was nice to move back "home" to the place where I grew up and was away from for far longer than I was yet to realize. I moved in with my two remaining single brothers (Jay & Mark), which has been wonderful... most of the time ;) Coach Doug got me a job with his company, Lancaster Fine Foods (LFF), for which I am eternally grateful.

I quickly learned to know the core workers at LFF, and many of them have become good friends. When asked how I like my new job, I'm always quick to respond that while the work is not always pleasant, the people who work there, make it worthwhile. They are fun, loving, caring and God-seeking people who make the time keep ticking away.

Another highlight was being able to coach Heather and Kristen and the LMH girls soccer team. Got to know many amazingly gifted and caring girls that love God just as much as they love playing for each other on the soccer field! The coaching staff was excellent learning material as well... and a lot of fun to get to know better!

For the third year, I again played with the Lancaster Inferno. I volunteered to help Coach Doug out on the administrative and organizational side of things, which--while at times was stressful and hectic--lent itself to the season running more smoothly and efficiently as possible. I met a bunch of new girls as well, and we had another stellar season! We went 6-1-3 in the regular season (division champs), winning our first-round playoff game before losing to a talented Long Island team in the East Semifinals. Personally, I got some one-on-one GK training, which boosted my spirits and self-confidence, and had a good season overall.

The summer was especially fun as I got to reconnect with my cousins and some long-lost friends. Much of my time was spent running, playing around with the soccer ball, playing soccer somewhere, hanging out at parks, and spending time with family!

Mike & Lauren were married in July with an absolutely gorgeous wedding and celebration! Their wedding couldn't have been any more befitting of the two of them, and it was so much fun welcoming in another sister-in-law!!!! :)

Mostly due to the economy (depleted budgets for education), there were little to no job openings in the Health & PE department in either VA or PA in the areas I was primarily looking to teach in. With that being said, I decided to officially transfer my teaching license from VA to PA, but quickly realized I needed to take another standardized test (at Millersville) and pay a ridiculous fee. So that was put on hold as I struggled to make ends meet, while saving up to do so...

For EMU's first week of preseason, I went down to VA to train their GK's. It was fun getting to know 3 more GK's as well as continuing to develop Abby in her 4th year. Crazy how time flies! Got to play some in goal; got chills watching "my" GK's beast it up in drills; and even got some conditioning in by playing on the field. And for the record, I probably witnessed one of Abby's top saves when I returned a few weeks later to catch a game! I'll never forget it!! It was sick. All I've gotta say is, Abby, you've come full circle, and I'm proud to have had the chance to train you the past 4 years. You're an all-star in my book!!!

Cousin Laura and her boyfriend, Justin, put together a co-ed team at Lanco. It was a very random bunch of people put together, but by far, the most fun I've ever had in indoor! Our team got along so well; gelled so well; and generally enjoyed cheering each other on during the game. We played some good teams and my uncle ran a great streak of scoring in every single game he played in for the session!!! I assisted on one of his goals, late in a game to help keep that streak alive, and have to admit... it was one of THE best feelings in the world! :) A very close second, was when I scored a header-goal off of a Katie Lamm corner kick... sick nasty!!!

October brought many first and very high highs! First off, Soccer Pops Phil bought tickets for me and Katie to watch the Men's National Team (MNT) v Colombia and the Women's National Team (WNT) v China in the Philly Union's new stadium in Chester, PA. Amidst that, a certain boy (Brad) from our Lanco team, invited me to my very first Union game against LA Galaxy!

For that first Union game, it was the first time I had even talked to Brad, other than at our games... and those times consisted of hi, good work out there, good hustle, and bye. When I met them at Target, it was me, Brad, his brother and his dad. We literally talked the whole way to the game! Well, to be honest, "I" talked most of the time :) But we had a BLAST!

Then, not even a week later, Brad texted me again and asked if I wanted to go to the Union's last home game of the season... uhhh, YES!!! Now, mind you... when all 4 of these games came about and I was asked to go (MNT, WNT and Union), I simply and quickly said yes, pertaining to the fact that they were high level soccer games. I'm a soccer fan, so it was a no-brainer. Looking back, the Union games--while not official dates--were probably pretty close to it ;) The second Union game involved, me, Brad and his parents. Another absolutely fun time!

Pretty much after that, it's history... Brad and I texted back and forth a bit (ahem!), and on October 25th, we officially began dating!

It's been an incredible 2 months with Brad! Simply put, he's been a true God-send. And I very much enjoy getting to know him better each day!

I've had a chance to hang out with him and his family quite a lot, so the holidays were more fun than nerve-racking :) Good food. Good company. Quality family and good times!

It was fun having my family meet him as well! While a bit overwhelming for him (my mom's side is HUGE), he did super well and we enjoyed our holidays together!

As I look back on the past year, it's definitely had really low lows and very high highs. But one thing that has been constant throughout, is the love of God. God was with me when I was digging in the dirt beneath rock bottom. And was and is with me now that things are beginning to look up. Never before have I felt the true humbleness of charity from loving friends and family. Never before have I felt God's love surrounding me in my times of sorrow, dread and seemingly hopelessness. Never before have I truly felt so at-home and yet so out-of-place, and vice versa. Never before have a I truly felt the need to rely on God and His word to get me through the dark times. But yet, never before have I felt such joy and victory in trusting in His timing and provisions.

A few songs that carried me through this year:
"While I'm Waiting" ~John Waller
"What Faith Can Do" ~Kutless
"Come to the Cross" Michael W Smith
"Blessed" ~Martina McBride
"Dare You to Move" ~Switchfoot
"Revelation Song" ~Phillips Craig & Dean
"What If His People Prayed" ~Casting Crowns
"Your Grace is Enough" ~Chris Tomlin
"Born Again" ~Third Day
"Praise You in the Storm" ~Casting Crowns
"You Never Let Go" ~Matt Redman

So long, 2010. It's been real. It's been fun. But it ain't been real fun...

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