Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Year to Remember

By: Coach

Wow! 2010 is in the books and I doubt there will be many like her. Ashley and I were reflecting on the past year and we both came to the conclusion that it was probably one of the craziest 12-month roller-coaster rides we have ever experienced as a married couple. It certainly had it all: uncertainty, life-changing experiences, milestones, but most of all blessings.

An Uncertain Future Becomes Much Clearer

Ever since we committed to stay in Taiwan a second year (which we officially decided early in 2008), we knew it would be our last year there but that is where the certainty stopped. We had absolutely no idea where we would go from there. Do we go back to the States and try and find teaching jobs in arguably the worst economy since the Great Depression? Do we look elsewhere for overseas jobs and, if so, what does the process even look like? Needless to say there was a lot to learn in the months leading up to the 2010 job fair in Bangkok. Nervousness does not adequately describe our feelings as we arrived at one of the biggest job fairs for teachers in the entire world. We were overwhelmed rookies who I am sure looked like 2 white-tailed deer glaring into the Dodge Ram headlights. Despite our cluelessness, interviews were scheduled and one of the most well-recognized international schools in all of Asia gave us an offer! Suddenly the sting of watching Alabama dismantle Texas for their 73rd national championship faded away as we flew back to Taipei with (at least) the next 2 years planned out. Seoul Foreign School was where God decided to place us next.

2010 would also answer a major question that plagued us for 2 years. This question would usually take the form of a Taiwanese student, church member or even 7-11 cashier nosily inquiring: “When will you have baby??” Not only were we constantly reminded verbally by everyone there that it was well past time for kids, seeing the THOUSANDS of pregnant Taiwanese women served as a constant reminder as well. While living in Taipei, we came to the conclusion that while unmarried American teenagers are the most fertile people on the planet, the Taiwanese are a close second! Needless to say this only added to the feelings of doubt, helplessness and frustration as we continued to try for a baby, to no avail. Then our first week back in the States for the summer changed our lives forever and God answered our prayers and gave us a “double portion” on top of that!

Busy, Busy, Busy!

The months following the acceptance of our new positions at SFS were probably some of the busiest of our lives. We were bombarded with e-mails from the school’s HR director with a very long to-do list before arriving in August. On top of that we had the newly formed stress of being pregnant with hardly anyone knowing at first (including our employer). Throw in not one but two summer weddings (one of which was in Mexico) and that makes for a majorly eventful spring and summer! As always there were friends and family that we were not able to visit with during the short time we had in America. If you are one such person I apologize and I am sure 2011 will be far less busy with our two little additions…. well, maybe not!

A Banner Year – Milestones

The past year also brought about some pretty cool additional landmarks for me personally. 2010 will always be known as the year we found out about the BOGO’s, the year we came to Seoul, and the year we discovered that dream jobs do, in fact, exist. There are a few other events and milestones that occurred this past year that I will always remember with fondness. A few of you out there might know this about me: I am a pretty big Auburn football fan. I know, I know, its one of my hidden interests so my apologies to those who feel a little out of the loop when you read this. Ever since National Signing Day back in February, Auburn has been building a special program (believe it or not they actually signed about 30 players in addition to Cam Newton). The die-hard AU fan has known about this for a while so seeing the success on the field this year does not come at a huge surprise like the rest of the nation. Needless to say this die-hard fan has seen some incredible seasons in my lifetime but almost all of them were ironically accompanied by tragedy (i.e. 1993 and 2004). In my lifetime, Auburn has a winning record over our hated rival Alabama and has upset numerous top 5 programs. Auburn has had some great gridiron moments – many of which I have witnessed in person. The one glaring area where we always seem to fall short: championships. Yes, we might have beaten Bama more times than they have beaten us recently but they have more SEC and National Championships than we do, and unfortunately it’s not even close! Our only official national championship came before both of my parents were born and even though I hope every year my beloved Tigers can make it to the big game the harsh reality is that odds are they will only get there about once every 40-50 years. So, exactly one year after our bitter rivals lifted the crystal trophy in Pasadena, Auburn will have the same chance in 2 days! For the first time in BCS history Auburn is undefeated AND playing for it all.

Speaking of undefeated sports teams: my JV basketball team is unbeaten and has a great chance to win a championship. As a coach who has done it for several years now, I understand that seasons like these don’t come around very often and I feel very fortunate to be doing so well in my first year here.

Another big landmark for me was turning 30. To me, turning 30 is a milestone itself but for me it was extra special. When I was younger I always envisioned my 30’s being spent with my family, my wife and kids. I know this is strange but I would pray earnestly about it. Most teens pray for sports cars, pretty girlfriends and popularity. All I wanted was a future that had me a dad by the time I was 30. Recently I let that dream go as it did not seem to be a reality. God has a funny way sometimes of showing us that He wants to bless us and give us what we want! This time last year I was struggling with the idea of possibly not being able to have children to now realizing in the year I turn 30 I will be blessed with 2 daughters! My 30th birthday party was one that I will never forget spent with our new friends here in Seoul and a few old friends from Taiwan. It was a special night.

Lastly, I want to mention another milestone for Ashley and me. Like many of you, I had to take out loans for my education (both undergrad and master’s). Living abroad has its advantages, one being a high salary coupled with low cost of living. Because of these financial advantages, we became officially debt free on December 21, 2010! Talk about a weight being lifted off your shoulders. It’s a great feeling to know that nothing is holding us back from saving for the BOGO’s future. So all in all 2010 was a heck of a year. I can’t wait to see what 2011 has in store! Stay tuned…


junia said...

Aw Chris,
That is just SO awesome. It was SO GOOD to read what you guys were up to and just to see all the blessings!


stephanie hansen said...

Love this!! What a great year :) Can't wait to see pictures of the new babies!

Oh, and PS, I will be rooting for Auburn tomorrow night because I will HATE if the ducks win!!!

tracy said...

What an amazing year! Like Junia I loved reading this. I am so happy for you and Ashley and I just see how God is with you two and how much you trust Him. We miss you and are so looking forward to meeting the BOGOs (well seeing their pics for the time being). Love you guys! WDE!

Michael said...

Great post Chris. I'm sure its even sweeter after watching Auburn claim victory.

I've never noticed a ton of pregnant women here in Taiwan? Huh?

Debt free is definitely the best way to live. Congratulations.