Monday, February 29, 2016

My Story: Part II - Grade 9

If you missed Part I, click here.

Part II: Grade 9

Moving to San Jose turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me, although it didn’t start out so wonderfully.
The previous two times we had moved cross-country, we found out in January and didn’t leave until July. This time around, we found out we were moving in August and left three weeks later. When we first went to look at houses, our real estate agent informed us that the schools in our area weren’t very good, so recommended the school her sons went to: Valley Christian High School. At this point in my life, I would have describe myself as an Atheist if anyone asked. The logical side of me just couldn’t believe that there was some all-powerful man up in the sky controlling everything, so when a Christian school was put on the table, I was not pleased. We did end up applying to the school and when I had my phone interview with the admissions advisor, I lied. I had previously talked to my Aunt, a very strong Christian, and wrote down a lot of what she said, and used it when I did my interview. Thank goodness for her, because had I not known how to properly answer the questions being asked, I may never have been accepted and my life would have turned out very differently.

The week that we found out we were moving was also the week that Valley Christian began their school year. This is why our move happened so quickly. My sister, mom, and I moved first, leaving my dad to complete his final months at his current location, as well as work on selling our home. We moved the first week of September and he joined us in January. We waited the three weeks because I decided to attend the first day of high school in LaSalle with my friends before officially moving to San Jose. It was a strange day, but it gave me a sense of peace being able to start with familiar faces. On September 11, 2006, I started at Valley. Starting school late was very difficult. I had missed the window where there were other new students trying to make friends, so I stuck out like a sore thumb.

The hardest part, though, was that I was sicker than I had been the previous year. The stress of moving and trying to make friends perpetuated my illness, making every symptom that much worse. I lost even more weight, putting me at less than 100 pounds, and I was so nauseous I could barely stand. I started seeing Dr. W. fairly soon after moving, a doctor who started out great, but ended up doing nothing but make things worse. She consistently put down how I was feeling, always questioning what I was saying and never truly believing any of it. For the longest time, she told me that it was all in my head and that I was just depressed. What she couldn’t seem to grasp was that I was depressed because I was sick, not sick because I was depressed. Thank goodness for my parents who went to bat for me against Dr. W. They convinced her to send me to specialists, where I had test after test. We eventually found a new doctor who changed everything, but not until my second year of high school.

My freshman year, I was severely depressed. I was in a new place, incredibly sick, only attending half of my school days, and had no real friends. I was living a very lonely existence, not able to find my place at Valley. I never voiced my depression to my family, but rather just dealt with it internally. There were times that I thought that if I was just gone, all of the illness and pain would disappear. I knew that I loved my family too much to ever do something drastically, but the beginning of 2007 was filled with dark thoughts and overall deep depression.

One benefit from all of this was my sister. Because I didn’t have any friends and was home so often, I began to talk to Bethany. She was the only person I had and despite what I thought in junior high, she was incredible. She will forever be the silver lining of my first year of high school. She became my friend that year, a relationship that would become the one that mattered most.

Finally, in April, I started hanging out with a group of girls that would change my life. There was a girl named Chelsea who I had three classes with, and we had started talking and getting to know each other – she even remembered my birthday and gave me a card. I finally worked up the courage to ask her if I could sit with her at lunch and when she said, “of course,” I was over the moon. For those first couple months, I was very shy with that group, feeling them out and making sure they were a good fit for me. The more I learned about them and enjoyed their company, the more I knew they were the perfect group for me. That group of girls made high school amazing. At the end of the school year, I decided to have them over to my house, a big step for me. Little did we know, my house would become everyone’s second home throughout high school and university. The rest of that summer was spent getting to know these Godly women. I learned so much from them in such a short period of time and felt honored to be their friend. I actually looked forward to starting grade 10 and going to school - a big departure from the year before.

To learn about grade 10 – the year that I became a Christian, click here: My Story: Part II continued.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Tulle: Flower Girl Dresses

February with Dear Wedding Day: Tulle

Your wedding day is a special day for your flower girls. It's a day where they get to feel like the most special girls in the world. Adding a tulle dress is sure to make them feel like the princesses they are. Here are some of my favorites.

Next on DWD: Leap

My Story: Part I

I was born at the beginning of February in 1992 in Orangeville, a town outside of Toronto, Ontario.

My parents, Mark and Cheryl, are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary this August. I am incredibly blessed to have such great role models for what a marriage should look like, as well as a close relationship with them. I look forward to visiting them and truly enjoy their company. They've been my support system, continually encouraging me and helping me achieve my goals.

My sister, Bethany, who is two years my junior, is amazing. She is my best friend, roommate, and most important person in my life. She is someone who I grow in my faith with, constantly laugh with, and occasionally steal clothes from.

I also have two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels named Kinchie and Whinnie who make my world a happier place. They have such distinct personalities, but are glued to each others' hips. They're sweet, funny, and love their family so much!

At a young age, I began my moving journey. When I was four, we experienced our first move to Caledon, a small town about 30 minutes away from our home in Orangeville. My first couple of years of school were wonderful. I absolutely loved to learn and was continually pushed by my teachers to work hard and succeed.

In 2000, my dad found out he was being relocated to Yorba Linda, a city in Orange County, California, for his job. I don't remember much of this move, as I was only eight, but I know it was a really tough move for my parents. My entire extended family lived in Ontario (and still do to this day), and we were the first family members to move away.

Yorba Linda was a great place for me. There, I met three of the most amazing friends a girl could ask for. Caitlin, Keiko, and Shannon are girls that I met when I was eight years old, and sixteen years later, we're still talking about how we'll be bridesmaids in each others' weddings. They were my first glimpse into what friendship really was. At such a young age, we were able to build friendships that mattered and through that foundation, I've built so many other friendships, while still holding on to theirs.

I also discovered my love of dance in Yorba Linda. I started tapping and my instructor, Ryan, saw something in my abilities. After a year of tapping for him, he asked me to join a small competitive group of just five girls. Dance was everything. I ended up competing in jazz the following year and loved every second of it. In grade eight, I added lyrical and ballet to my competitive line-up. Tap, though, will always be my first true passion in life.

In 2003, my dad made the decision to switch companies. With this new job, we were told we were once again moving, this time back to Ontario, four hours away from our first home. This move was devastating for me. I couldn't imagine leaving these three girls that meant so much to me. As a going away trip, the girls and our families went on a trip to Bass Lake, a trip that would become an annual getaway.

Moving to LaSalle was hard. I was slow to make friends because I was missing my originals so much. Part way through grade six, a girl named Ronya befriended me. We quickly became best friends and I started to join her friend group. Not too long after, I had a group of eight girls who I loved. In grade 7, I met a girl named Jenn who would become my everything. She was someone I competed with for grades, travelled with, and shared my first teenage year with. Throughout the remainder of junior high, I had a large group of friends and people I truly cared about.

Looking back on my junior high experience, the memories are good, but my feelings about my own behavior are not. I was a part of the "popular" crowd and therefore, I wasn't the nicest person, particularly to my sister. It's a time that I look back on, and although I don't love my actions, I know that God used it to change my heart. By being able to reflect on the past, I'm now able to treat people with respect and kindness because I know what it's like to do the opposite.

At the start of 2006, my entire extended family caught the stomach flu. I caught it last, but never got better. I am someone who loved school more than anything, both because of my friends and my joy of learning, and I missed two weeks straight. Over the course of the next couple of days post-flu, I started having even more symptoms. The biggest one was my nausea - if you've ever been carsick, I felt like that 24/7. Others included a rapid heartbeat (sometimes up to 200 beats/minute), the feeling as if a 2000-pound person was sitting on my chest, uncontrollable shaking, the inability to control my own temperature, hair loss, and an erratic sleep schedule. All of these symptoms seemed very "textbook thyroid" to each doctor I saw, and yet, my bloodwork wasn't showing anything wrong. Finally, after five months, my bloodwork peaked, to the point where when I was on my grade eight trip, I had to warn my friends about thyroid storm. It's an incredibly scary thing to tell your fourteen year old friends that if I start having certain symptoms, I need to be rushed to the hospital so that I don't have a heart attack and die. Because my thyroid levels were so sporadic and rarely showed in bloodwork, the doctors couldn't put me on medication. They continued to look for other answers, but couldn't find any.

Then in August, we found out we were moving again, this time to San Jose, California.

To continue the story and learn about my move, health, high school years, and salvation, click here: My Story: Part II.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Love Note: Pre-Wedding Letters

February with Dear Wedding Day: Love Note

Marrying your best friend is such a beautiful moment - why not tell them all the things you love about them before the wedding? These couples chose to write letters to each other before walking down the aisle, a truly beautiful sentiment. Did you and your spouse write love notes before saying "I do?"

Next on DWD: Tulle

Friday, February 26, 2016

Sip: Rainbow Cocktails

February with Dear Wedding Day: Sip

Cocktail hour can have some added fun when signature cocktails are served! Here are fourteen delicious drinks for every color of the rainbow.

Next on DWD: Love Note

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Pantone: This Year's Color Inspiration

February with Dear Wedding Day: Pantone

Each year, the Pantone Color Institute releases a color of the year. This year, they released two. Personally, I LOVE both of these colors! They are beautiful and calming and the perfect themes for a wedding. Whether you choose one of the colors, or both, and are your main color scheme or simple accents, they're sure to make your wedding stand out.


Bridal Gowns 



Bridesmaid Dresses


Groomsmen Attire


Ceremony Decor


Escort Cards


Place Settings




Rose Quartz Inspiration

Serenity Inspiration

Next on DWD: Sip