Why hello, 2010!

Well, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years have come and gone...I feel like every year it is so awkward writing the new year on everything that asks for a date, but this year's date seems especially uncomfortable. Are we supposed to say "2010" every time we say the date... or just "10?" Saying "0-" seemed fairly normal after doing that for 10 years and now we have to change our whole date-saying mentality.

I hope that each of you reading this had a wonderful and very blessed Christmas full of great memories that you can retrieve and smile on for years to come. Christmas in Korea is interesting. The province that we live in, Gyeongsangnam-do (Gyeongsang is the name, 'nam' means south, and 'do' means province), is known for being a predominantly Buddhist area, but spotted with several Christian church of various demoninations. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, however, store after store threw up their tiny Christmas tree, holly and ornaments and changed their normal Korean music to English Christmas music. Employees at stores wore Santa hats or festive beanies of some sort and even many delivery drivers (who don't drive cars but mopeds) wore entire Santa Claus outfits. The thought that consistently puzzled me was, "Do they even know what Christmas is about?" From my experience here so far (and others might see it differently), Koreans LOVE America. If asked where in the World they would want to travel most say the US, learning English here separates you from the rest of the Korean population and makes you a prized jewel, American celebrities and culture are very talked about here and, in general, Korean see the American culture as one to mimic.

Side note: There are, of course, many Koreans who do not feel this way and are angry that the US still occupies their country.
Side note #2: I often think this mentality is crazy.

But the whole reason for sharing this discovery is that despite the fact of if certain Koreans are Christian, Buddhist or some other faith they seemed to view the Christmas holiday and all that comes with it as this faddish, cool and copy-worthy Western invention. They know how to immitate all of the exterior sights and sounds of Christmas that has gotten way too out of hand in the West, but do they know why we celebrate Christmas? I dare say that most of the American traits that Korea has adopted are only the skin-deep, materialistic and idolatrous things that we pursue on a daily basis. I pray that many Koreans know that the whole reason for Christmas is Jesus, not how many lights you can hang, what colors of ornaments to put on your tree or how expensive the gift is you buy. Sadly, the probable reason why it seems that Koreans see Christmas as a materialistic celebration is because that is how most Americans see it...how sad this must make Jesus.

On a lighter note (phew!), I read my friend Kim Davis' New Years blog and she listed her top 10 favorite things from 2009 and I thought it was a brilliant idea...so I shall copy her. Thanks, Kim!

In chronological order:

#1. Living with A-mazing girls that really love Jesus and encouraged me everyday to pursue Him more and more and more. I miss this already. Pipey, you moved out in 2008 but I'm including you in this bunch for sure.

The gals minus Candice because she wasn't there, which means...

...she gets THIS.

#2. Leading a YoungLife Small Group in the Brazos Valley. My small group girls amazed me each week and loved on me and each other so very well. I pray that through our honest time of looking in to Scripture and analyzing our lives that they were able to intimately meet with Jesus. Sadly, I don't have a picture. They're too good looking to all be in one picture together. It just wouldn't be fair.

#3. Seeing many of my friends get married. Let me try to express how much I love weddings...everything about them...going to them, planning them, being in them, watching the groom watch the bride, eating good food, open bars (yep, I said it), looking at the pretty flowers, dancing all night...oh they are just great. What is even greater? Watching the friends that you love marry their loves and have the happiest day of their lives. 2009 weddings included: the Lewis' (I know, I know it was December 2008 but since it was only 11 days until the new year, I'm including it.), the Fordinal's, the Vacek's, the Dixon's, the Cotgreave's, the Jumonville's and the Todd's.)

The Jumonville's
Caldwell girl leaders at the Fordinal wedding
The Dixon's
The Lewis'

#4. My Bridesmaid's shower and Bachelorette Party. This day/weekend brought me so much joy my cheeks hurt so much from smiling. Having my best friends and wonderful family celebrating the excitement of Austin and my upcoming wedding was more than a girl could ask for...and it produced wonderful pictures and fun memories!

What we like to call "the girliest morning ever"
My bridesmaids and me
"Whose a super freak?"

#5. My parents buying a wonderful condo on Lake Conroe where we all spent many great weekends by the lake and on the boat...and where Austin and I got to live for a month and a half before moving to Korea. Score. Thanks, Mom and Dad. Sadly, again, no picture.

#6. Austin graduating. Him graduating meant that we could get married...yay!

#7. Marrying to the love of my life. Everything leading up to our wedding, with premarital counseling, planning the wedding, showers, etc. was just so wonderful and then our wedding day was the best day of my life so far. The exciting part is that we're only at about 6 months right now and have the rest of our lives to keep on lovin' each other. yippee.

#8. Honeymooning in Cabo san Lucas. Ahhh, I want to go back to that life. Eatin' Mexican food (best Guac everrr), sipping frozen beverages, laying by the beach/pool and not having a care in the World for 2 weeks. Yes, please.

#9. Moving to Yangsan, South Korea! Being adventurous and moving across an Ocean has been the best thing for our marriage and has taught us so much about ourselves as individuals. Also, we have gotten to travel. By the end of our year we hope to have traveled to: Vietnam, Thailand, China, Japan, Malaysia (where my sister and brother-in-law (BIL) are moving!!!) and then finally London (to see Candice, Jon and my God-mother.)

#10. Learning Taekwondo. Austin and I knew that coming to Korea that we wanted to learn something new that was indigenous to Korea...so Korean Taekwondo it was. We are taking TKD with our friends in the above picture and will be taking our Green Belt test on Jan 11'th!!

Well, that's all for now folks. Hope you enjoyed my top 10 from 2009. See you again next time.