All The Right Friends in All The Right Places

A friend loveth at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity.
Proverbs 17:17

It’s that time of year again, an in-between. It’s the time we say goodbye  to the past–to all that was lost, and embrace the new year again–to start over. Bittersweet. As much as we want to hold on to those glory days, we have to let them go if we want new and greater things to come. And I believe they will come.

2009 was a year of surprises. Sure, it was dominated by vampires and mutants and cars that could transform into robots or even machines set on exterminating the human race (again). But it’s also the year America’s first black president took office and surprisingly (for some) won the Nobel Peace Prize. We may have said goodbye to our loved ones for the last time, or even those we’ve admired, such as Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Ted Kennedy, and Brittany Murphy.

There were definitely great surprises, like Susan Boyle on “Britain’s Got Talent,” who reminded us that appearances don’t matter, as she drew in 120 million views on Youtube and sold more than 1.8 million copies of her debut album. And of course, there were awful surprises, like when Kanye West stole Taylor Swift’s light when she was getting her award or how we learned that Tiger Wood’s pure image became tainted with scandal.

Yes, surprises. 2009 was filled with them. But we say goodbye to all that.

And at this time of year, I have a tradition of acknowledging the people in my life who have affected me in some way. Think of it like an extended Thanksgiving, but I think it’s important that we lift others up because to many times we bring people down.

So here’s to you:

The greatest parents

Troy Aikman graduates with the class of 2009 in Sociology

Mom and Dad. You’ve supported me so much through school–from kindergarten to even my years at UCLA. When I was down over something, you always manage to get my head focus, to realize that it doesn’t matter about my circumstances–what matters was my drive to achieve my dreams. It’s because of you that I get to fulfill my childhood dreams, walking on that stage, receiving my bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology from UCLA. And hey, I did it with style, doing it with Troy Aikman.

Alpha Gamma Omega and Jon Foreman of Switchfoot

Alpha Gamma Omega. What a crazy year I’ve had from being an active to being a chapter advisor. I love seeing you guys grow as faithful men of God. And your testimonies and example of service has especially strengthened my own faith, that the God I serve is the God who comforts and the God who loves despite my shortcomings. From those classy date events, to other social events, to engagements, to those late night BBQs,to flag football at Pismo, to seeing Jon Foreman perform on our stage–all of you guys have made my year. Iron sharpens iron. And I can’t wait to see what’s in store for you in the future. And thanks James, for allowing me to see America through your eyes, all the novelty that had warned off since moving here. Looking at it with fresh eyes, I realize more how grateful I am. Oh, and I also love you guys to at USC, SDSU, Berkeley, UCSB, Cal Poly Slo, Cal State Fresno, and UC Davis.

Venice trip with Bailey, Jose, and Jillian (Steven took the picture)

Alpha Delta Chi. Those beautiful, gorgeous, women of God with high standards of what they want in a man. You go ladies! To my lil sis, Bailey, my big sis, Rae’ven, to Jessica, Jillian, Alisa, Kimmi, Jackie, Leah, Ana, Lauren, Amy, Kati and the others who I can’t all name (because there’s a lot of you)…a guy is lucky to be surrounded by such classy women. Thank you! You guys have supported me through the year and taught me many things about women. For example, the only way I’m going to get a girl, is if I become a stone cold vampire and glitter in the sun. Oh, and sometimes, a guy’s just got to sing a little of Taylor Swift or Celine Dion on a porch bench at USC. I love you all.

Ohnine of IVBCF

At fountains just outside Royce Hall

Ohnine and Intervarsity Bruin Christian Fellowship. Thank you guys for being so patient with me. You guys are my backbone. Every time I dwell into the world with you guys, I get so enlightened–perhaps because we study the Bible like no other. Seriously, my mind hurts sometimes by all those thought-provoking questions we ask. And you guys don’t know how welcomed and accepted I feel every time you guys include me in various events.

Sociology

The Class of 2009. That’s you Emanuel, Brandon, David, Jose, Ted, Josh, Arvin, Kim, Shannon, Alex, Kirsten, and all those others I can’t name. We did it. And for those of you in Sociology…haha, we survived the mayhem. You’re going to do wonders where ever you are!

UGADA. You taught me to care about the world around me, and reminded me that we can’t stay young forever. This issue of Alzheimer’s disease is of great importance because it just doesn’t affect one person–it affects the entire family. Others live on through our memories and when we lose that, we lose them. We need to continue to educate people so that one day we will find a cure and by the time we reach a certain age, Alzheimer’s disease will be no more! UGADA find a cure!

Freedom and Fashion. I’ve neglected the issue of human and sex trafficking like it was some kind of bad dream. I was reminded by the capacity we have for evil, and that slavery hasn’t disappeared–it just has taken on a different form. But God’s heart is for all those that are broken, and for the rest of us who can, we must do God’s work and fight for those without a voice. Thank you for allowing me to join the fight with putting on a grand fashion show educating people of fair trade products, as well as the fact that these hidden things are going on all around us. I’d like to think of us as superheroes without masks…and definitely more fashionable and fashion conscious.

And to all the others who I didn’t name, I apologize. But I thank you.

And most importantly, to Christ, the Savior of my soul, who provided me with all the right friends in all the right places. You truly know where to place them and exactly at what time in my life.

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