Posted by: deerharas | January 5, 2009

2008: Another Illustrated Year in Review

Last year I started a new tradition.  Rather than sending out a Christmas card letter, I wrote a Christmas card letter blog … 2007: An Illustrated Year in Review.  It was a great way to reflect on the past year (good times and bad) and share my experiences with others, not to mention giving myself something to look back on and remember 2007.  So as 2008 has come and gone, I am attempting to answer Jonathan Larson’s melodic question, “How do you measure, measure a year?”

2008 was my last year in residence life after three years as an RA and four as a Hall Director.  After deciding (finally) to go back to school in the fall, I closed down West Hall for the last time in May.  I have so many great memories from my years at UCO, and it was certainly hard to leave.  I especially miss all my RAs (my favorite part of the job was leading the staff) and fellow HDs.  Soon after moving to Wheaton, I began working at Bath & Bodyworks and then in the fall picked up a job watching a couple boys after school three days a week.  About midway through the semester I also started tutoring a girl for the ACT.  I didn’t necessarily plan to work that much, and it was definitely a hard balancing act with the demands of graduate school.  I hope to cut back or at least balance a little better this spring.

Hmm, I guess this applies in more ways than one!  If I hadn’t completely uprooted and driven over a thousand miles across the country to begin school this fall, I would certainly count running a marathon as the year’s highlight.  Back last fall my good friend Jamie volunteered to train and one my first marathon with me in April.  We logged many a mile over our five months of training, becoming quite1450 familiar with almost every street in Edmond and on a few long runs, Oklahoma City as well.  We had a good race and met my initial goal of breaking five hours with a time of 4:43:34.  I was a little disappointed that I didn’t beat Oprah, but there’s always next time … the Chicago marathon is calling my name!

After graduating from OBU in 2004, I immediately moved to Edmond to start my job at UCO.  For four fun years I lived there, and deciding to move away brought a lot of sad goodbyes.  I had the best friends!  A few weeks before I left, my friend Melissa arranged a “slumber party card night” for a few of us that usually got together on Sunday nights.  When I got to her house, it turned out that it was actually a surprise Chicago themed going away party!  Sydnie (one of my very best friends who moved away at the beginning of the year) drove in from Tulsa, and a couple other friends were in from out of town as well.  We played cards (of course) and ate Old Chicago pizza while listening to Chicago (the band) and then watched Chicago (the movie).  The highlight of the night was when the doorbell rang and Candace and Melissa were nowhere to be found.  Everyone looked at me as if it was my responsibility to answer the door.  When I opened it, Candace and Melissa were standing beside a brand new bike with a bow on it!  My sweet friends had all gone in together to replace my bike that was stolen earlier in the summer.  Yeah, did I mention I have the best friends?  The young adult pastor at my church also threw a going away swim party, and I was incredibly blessed by the prayers and encouragement from my brothers and sisters I had so grown to love over the past few years (not to mention being blessed by the amazing bible software I got as a going away gift).  Several of these same friends also showed up to carry boxes and furniture down a pretty narrow stairwell come moving day.  I tried to cram in as much quality time as possible my last night there: dinner with Stacey, prayer time with Conversation Cafe friends, a Wal-Mart run with Rodney, one last game of cards with Melissa, Candace, AnaLeah, and Michelle, and then a goodbye to Todd, Jeanna and Caed (in utero).  I think I cried at each goodbye.

I love my family so much, so I’m pretty excited for any occasion that brings us together.  I can count on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this year my cousin Ericka graduated from high school thus bringing us all together again.  I couldn’t wait to see my uncle Jay and give him the Tim Duncan jersey I got for $3 at a garage sale with Sydnie!  He wore it the next Spurs playoff game which unfortunately they lost.  This year also marked another momentous family occasion … Jayme & I getting to live in the same town!  Man, I love that girl; she’s the closest thing I have to a sister and I get to see her all the time now as we’re both at Wheaton.  🙂  My sweet, sweet parents and brother helped me get up there, and on the way we stopped in at my great aunt and uncle’s home in Iowa.  Of course we had to watch Field of Dreams.  The last time I’d visited there was about twenty years ago, so it was so interesting to see my grandfather’s home with grown up eyes.

The biggest change in my life over the past year was definitely my return to the classroom.  After tossing around the thought for several years, I finally decided on Wheaton and began their Biblical Exegesis program this fall.  This past semester I took Intermediate Greek, New Testament Theology, and Principles of Interpretation (the level of difficulty increasing respectively).  Principles was certainly baptism by fire.  I made it through my twelve page exegesis paper somewhat unscathed, however, and funfetti cupcakes have become my new celebratory indulgence.


One of the best things about living in such close proximity to Chicago is people’s willingness to come and visit!  A couple weeks after I moved to Wheaton, a couple HHBC friends stopped in for a couple days on their way back to Oklahoma from Michigan.  I had such a blast with Rachel and Jenny and got my first chance to play tour guide … walking tour guide that is.  I bet we walked fifteen miles in one day.  In October my sweet friend and marathon partner Jamie came for a visit.  I gave her a jogging tour of Wheaton in addition to the soon to be trademarked “Sarah’s Walking Tour o’ Chicago.”  We entered our name into a drawing to win vouchers for discounted front row tickets to Wicked, and we won!  My aunt Kaye came up a few weeks later to bring my cousin her car, so the three of us put in the Chicago miles as well.  My last visit of the semester was from three of the card girls.  I was so happy to have AnaLeah, Michelle and Kelsey with me on their fall break.  They came to my NT Theo class Thursday night and then we spent the rest of the weekend in the city.  I won Wicked vouchers AGAIN, so Michelle got to sit front row on her birthday after having a hilarious birthday lunch at Ed Debevic’s.  We shopped the Mag Mile and did other touristy stuff having an incredible time.  Anyone else wanna come visit?  I’ve got the tour guide thing down.

One of the hardest things about moving was leaving behind some incredible friendships.  From the card girls, to church friends, to the House Church/Coversation Cafe crowd, to coworkers, to Stacey (who defies any category), I was incredibly blessed in Oklahoma, and I knew those friendships couldn’t be replaced wherever I went.  Thankfully, there are great people in Illinois too!  I found a church I really loved relatively quickly after moving, and Susan and Marshall have been incredibly generous to host a 20-somethings small group in their home each week.  I became quick friends with Sharon, Jill and Kristi.  I also made a good friend my first week here after attending a random discussion group.  Kristine has since become my faithful concert buddy.  I’ve been nothing but impressed with my classmates and was thankful to have my co-exegesis friends Angie and Ashley each in one of my classes.  Emily’s a great roommate, and I couldn’t be more excited to have Jayme living just over a mile away.  She makes the family and the friendship category.  🙂

Yes, no end of year summation would be complete without a concert tribute.  I’ve already written about most of these, so we’ll just go with this year’s list:

  • Derek Webb – University Baptist Church, Shawnee, OK
  • Caedmon’s Call – The Door, Dallas
  • Jenny Lewis – Epiphany, Chicago
  • Rachel Unthank & The Winterset – Schuba’s, Chicago
  • Don Chaffer – The Union, Naperville, IL
  • Ray LaMontagne – Chicago Theatre, Chicago
  • Andrew Peterson – Hickory Creek Community Church, Frankfort, IL
  • Conor Oberst – The Vic, Chicago
  • Over the Rhine – The Union, Naperville, IL
  • Shawn McDonald – Willow Creek, South Barrington, IL
  • Over the Rhine – Double Door, Chicago

Now that I have access to a plethora of great shows, I have reason to add a new list to this category … Shows I Wish I’d Been Able to See:

  • Sam Phillips: No excuse!  I should have gone.  Looking back, I would have even taken a loss on a second ticket just to be there.
  • Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God tour: Who cares that it was nearly two hours away on a school night?  I’ve been wanting to see this Christmas show for years, and it was finally going to be within a feasible driving distance.  A plague upon the paper that kept me at home!
  • Derek Webb:  Only one thing could keep me from a solo acoustic Derek Webb show, and that would be the afore-cursed paper.  Yeah, I couldn’t really justify going the day before it was due.  I had hoped; it just didn’t happen.
  • Bon Iver: A friend introduced me to this beautiful band earlier in the semester, and I was so excited to see he was playing The Vic in December.  Then I noticed the date was the same as one of my finals.  Seriously, Wheaton, you are completely interfering with my true purpose in living here!

These are my honorable mentions, I suppose.  I certainly don’t want to forget:

  • Volleyball nights at HHBC & Parkview
  • My “Tribute to the Twenties” Finer Things Club invitation … No paper.  No plastic.  No talking about work.
  • Henderson’s 20 Something Date Auction & subsequent date … Jamie and I raised over $400 auctioning ourselves off for missions, and we got to see Derek Webb.  🙂
  • Thursday night LOST parties with Todd & Jeanna
  • My last West Hall Academy Awards Gala
  • My last Strangers in the Night … my girls got me a date this year!
  • Three weddings in two weeks … Kelsey, Anna and then Dave & Teresa
  • Last weekend in OK road trip to Dallas … Jamie and I visited Kelly and got to see Shane Claiborne on the Jesus for President book tour.

Well, that about sums it up.  Until next year, friends …


  1. Glad to see you’re enjoying Chigago. You absolutely must try a place called White Palace Grill. It has amazing diner food. I used to eat there everytime I went to Chi, when I was living in the Midwest.

    I’ve posted a couple links below.–The-White-Palace-Grill

  2. All I can say is that it was Oklahoma’s loss and Illinois’ gain! We love having you here!
    ~Susan & Marshall

  3. […] since become one of my favorite blogging endeavors.  2007: An Illustrated Year in Review and then 2008: Another Illustrated Year in Review were my versions of the classic “Christmas Card Letter.”  So here, once again, I offer […]

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