Anel Yohn of Santa Ana, CA

I sat down in front of my computer every night excited to write the story of my life thus far through your charms. Every time I did, nothing happened. I realized it was harder than it sounded because I found myself comparing an abundance of charms to different aspects of my life. After long nights of strolling down memory lane and note taking, I finally did it! The following charms depict the most significant chapters of my life.

I grew up in Santa Ana, Ca in a gang-infested neighborhood. One witnessed abuse on the streets and in the homes, yet we were taught to stay quiet due to fear. As a result, I, along with my mom and siblings lived tormented by our father. Sexual, physical and mental abuse soaked my mind and body until one day the truth came out and my father was taken away. After, there was a sense of relief, however, guilt and shame stuck to me like glue for years to come. As an eight year old, that was tough.

Since I can remember, GOD has always been a part of my life. But it wasn't until my mom and I attended a retreat that I felt the presence of our Lord (Cross - #0756). It was then that I knew that with GOD, things were going to be good. With great Faith and family support, that's how it happened. Junior High was tough. Then came high school. There, I began to come out of my shell. Joining sports was one of the best things that I could have done for myself, as it was also part of the healing process. There was nothing better to and for me than running (Female Runner - #2420). Cross Country along with Track and Field meant the world to me. I went on to college and continued the sport! Racing set me free. Life was good and I was on a runner's high 24/7.

College was also where I met the man who is now my husband. He asked me out a couple of times, but my answer was always "no", until I was finally convinced. Our first date... the movies (Movie Ticket - #2486). I will always remember this special date because, well, not only was it our 1st date, but I also paid for myself. Unbelievable, but true! As corny as that was, I decided that he was a keeper because he was and still is "one of a kind". Throughout the college years, both of us were busy with running, school and work that our means of communication came via letters... love letters that is (Love Letter - #8347). We wrote back and forth almost on daily basis words of love, dreams and encouragement. We kept all those letters and once in a while reminisce.

The arrowhead (#6040) is of greater significance to me for two reasons. One of my husband's first gifts to me when we were dating was a native arrowhead. After graduating from the university as teachers, it was time for us to unite in marriage. One Fall day, he drove me up to the local mountains for fun. Before our day ended, he decided to rent a motorboat and off to the lake we were. The name of the lake, Lake Arrowhead where he romantically proposed. He planned it so well, I was clueless! About one year and a half later, we tied the knot. January 11, 2003 was a good day (A Day to Remember - #1412).

After three years of marriage our first son, Aiden was born. I have accumulated a heart full of memories with one of them being his first word. We live in a community with lots of water features and ducks. As a baby, Aiden loved those ducks. So, instead of his first word being "dada" or "mama," it was "duck" (Duck - #6554). Joyful memories are taking the place of all that is negative. Adding to the joy, three years after, our second born joined the family. Thomas is his name and what a cutie he is! At just eight months of life, he is all smiles. He will blow you away with a smile as bright as our golden sun (Sunburst - #6486).

I'm busy being a wife, a mother of two boys and a runner. With everything that goes on, I needed to find a hobby in which after a stressful day, relaxed me. I developed an interest in card making and cooking. I love dishing out desserts (Mixer - #2008) and although some are not "finger lickin', go back for seconds" type of desserts, my family still eats them!

Growing up, life was dark, but soon the light shone just over the mountain. Thanks to GOD, family and this great country (USA Flag - #3863) I have been provided a path of new opportunities that took me in different directions, showed me happiness and changed my life for the better. I am FREE!

Anel Yohn Santa Ana, CA

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