2013 Year in Review…

My favorite post is my annual year in review. I approach them differently depending on the year and how I am feeling about the year.

I love going through and being reminded of the year. Sometimes the year is full of challenges, other years is an abundance of blessings, most years are a mixture of both, and sometimes the year is just full of a crazy amount of things.

I started doing year-end reviews five years ago, even though I have been blogging on one platform or another for more than a decade! Every year, the review blog post is one of my favorites because it reminds me of where I have been, what I have done, and ultimately how blessed I truly am.

Here are previous year-end reviews:
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012

So, onto the review!

Oh man, 2013 has been an interesting year…. 

Turned 28 in January…

Had lots of different hair colors:

PurplePurple2PinkBlueRed

I raised a Great Dane puppy, that at times I thought was either going to kill me or I was going to kill him. I have spent so many hours training, cleaning up his poop or pee, training, snuggling, training, walking, training… And without realizing it, I have grown to love his companionship, and realized he has ultimately turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made:

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Slobber.

SleepyVormund

Vormund at 9 weeks old (technically in 2012)

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“Indestructible” bed.

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At 1 year old and 130lbs.

IMG_0038 IMG_0130IMG_0322 IMG_0294IMG_0794 IMG_0674IMG_0809IMG_1102 IMG_0885IMG_1207 IMG_1253

I traveled. A lot, for a slew of reasons and loved every single moment of each trip:

Birds Nest Great Wall1Red Bean TeaForbidden CitySummer PalaceGaitlinburg

Basillica BarcelonaEiffel TowerMoving againVenice MapVeniceColusseumGirls MexicoSleepingWall MexicoAll Girls Mexico

I saw some of the most breathtaking skies:
IMG_3961 Barcelona sunrise

I ate new foods.. Some I loved, others…. not so much:

Bubble Tea Cafe Dessert Cafe Latte Calamari Clams1 Clams2 Pecking Duck Shrimp Shrimp2

My baby brother got married, and my older brother had a new baby!

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I got to spend so. much. time. with my family:

Rach and I

IMG_0895 IMG_0077 IMG_0301 IMG_0372 IMG_0516 IMG_0546 IMG_0597 IMG_0745 Beach Time LupitaWedding

Wedding 4

As I truly sit back and look at 2013, it was such a great year… and such a terrible year all rolled into one.

On one hand…
I got to see and meet so many absolutely amazing and inspiring people.
I got to hug some of my best friends in the world (a few multiple times).
I was able to dance quite a bit more than I thought I would be able to.
I completed TWO masters degrees!

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My longest friend in the world and several other dear friends got married, and many others got engaged!
I had so many wonderful people I love dearly have babies this year!
I got to know and love so many fantastic and amazing teens and people at my church.

And then, there was the crappy things mixed in with such good things..

I loved my job, felt like I was exactly where God placed me, and yet, I struggled with being lonely and stressed constantly.
At one point, I felt God told me to allow someone to stay in my apartment, and while I was gone, $9,000 worth of stuff was stolen, my car was impounded, and a slew of other issues happened.
Just over halfway through the year, I was let go from my job for essentially the reason I was hired in the first place because my job was causing more issues than anticipated initially.
I lost my church and church family.
I had to move out of my home and in with family (although they’re fabulous, it is never the first option you want when moving).
I got into a car accident that was not my fault, and then figured out due to the “no-fault” laws, I literally could not afford to fix my car.
I had to deal with TWO insurance claims in a two month period… Neither of which were pleasant experiences.
I was unemployed for several months at the end of 2013.

While applying for the monotonous more than 200 jobs (around the world), I had fun changes of pace to the applications including this question:
“If our team were stranded on a deserted island, why would we want you with us?”

My answer:
“You want me on the island with you because unlike Tom Hanks, I will open the packages to see if there’s anything useful for us to use.
I also have a good sense of humor, enjoy challenges; which oftentimes expresses itself as being adventurous.
I have been camping every summer of my childhood, know how to build a fire, shelter, and I have watched every episode of LOST.
And, in the rare possibility of a zombie apocalypse on the deserted island, I have been in the martial arts for more than 20 years and have been trained on how to survive.”

In just God’s timing, right when I finally admitted I was angry, not thankful or joyful due to the crap that had been a constant throughout my entire year; and as only God can do, He swooped in and brought people around me (some I know, and others I have never met) to support me, give me a place to stay, a car to use, money, prayers, encouraging letters/notes/e-mails/scripture, and many times just laughter to give me a moment to forget the stress. And then, He sent me a temporary job the day I found out I was not eligible for unemployment. So, off I went on another adventure to a temporary job with one of my absolute best friends in the world, in a city I love and near the church that feels like home.

To say this year has been emotional in ever aspect of the word would be an understatement.

I loved, cherished, had joy, sorrow, hated, and was just plain dealing with a hurting heart… and every emotion in between this year.

2013 has been a year of bait and switch. So much good followed by so much heartache, only to be once again followed by healing and growth in only the way that God can do things.

I love 2013, and I am so glad to see it over.

Thank you to every single one of you for your love, support, prayers, notes, hugs, food, time, money, shoulders to try on, and ears to listen. I can confidently say that you made this year possible to survive, learn, and laugh through. As difficult as this year has felt, I can honestly say that every low note is met with someone there to support me.

God is so good. In the good, in the bad, in the joy, in the pain, in our good times, and our ugly. This year has taught me so much about who God is, and just how blessed I am to be surrounded by so many amazing people, no matter what happens in my life.

Unchosen Change…

Late night writing has pretty much always been my thing. There is just something about the silence and stillness that comes late into the evening that just causes my mind to think differently. Tonight, as I sit in my soon to no longer be mine living room, with my incredibly large puppy sound asleep at my feet, I am struck once again by one thought: Unchosen change is the hardest.

I have said for a very long time that change is hard, even for someone like me who tends to really enjoy change (yes, 7 different hair colors in the last year). Change brings a lot of things, many of which take the form of uncertainties that simply cannot be answered. But, I will always stand by my personal view that it is actually the unchosen change that is the most difficult.

The complex situation can sometimes be caused by someone else choosing and making decisions on your behalf, other times it is because of illness, and every so often it is because of a series of tragic events. Regardless, the things you did not decide, but have no choice except to walk through is where the grieving of the change comes in.

My mantra for the last year has been pretty simple: “It’s just different, it’s not good or bad, just different.” And, that could not be more true for my life right now.

This week, I have had such a whirlwind of emotions play through me.

I am 7 weeks out,
100 job applications in,
23 rejection letters received,
15 packed boxes later,
2 cans of primer required,
and a solid 50/50 mixture of sorrow and joy.

Sorrow because I am painting my place back to white (which is never my favorite), and not preparing for a new exciting place yet.
Sorrow because I do not see the plan nor do I have a plan for what is coming next.
Sorrow because I am not excited about my next steps.
Sorrow because I did not just lose a job, I lost my community, and my home.
Sorrow because I learned a lot of bad habits due to some difficult people.
Sorrow because I miss and am going to miss a lot of people immensely.
Sorrow because it all just sucked.

And then, mercifully, I also find joy has just as much room in my heart and emotions.

Joy because I really do love adventure.
Joy because I get to take a furry companion with me this time.
Joy because a safety net fell into place exactly when I needed it to.
Joy because a terrible situation provided the means to get me through this season.
Joy because I know without any doubts that in a few days/weeks/months/ this time next year, I will be focused on other things.
Joy because I am loved by so very many people.
Joy because I trust that this all happened for a reason.
Joy because tomorrow brings new things.
Joy because I by my choosing or not, I am taken care of and Loved, and I know that when I look back, I would gladly choose every time for this all to work out exactly as it is playing out currently.

Unchosen change honestly sucks and it is hard. But, if we only ever got to choose the change, we would only ever do what we knew we could… And, where’s the fun adventure in that?

The Worst of Singleness…

For the most part, and for the majority of the time, I really enjoy being single.. Not because I am a “single independent woman,” and certainly not because I always want to be single, just that I am not itching to get married. I have this very welcome, very contented feeling of being fine exactly where I am in life. While I realize I am 28 and have no prospects, I am happy with where I have been, what I have done, and look forward to doing more things and going more places as a single.

With that said.. There are some really crappy things that come with being single, and I have encountered a lot of them the last few weeks…

After traveling out of the country for a couple of weeks, returning with the worlds worst head cold, and having a couple of weeks worth of work and school work to catch up on… Being single is difficult simply because you have to touch base with all of your bills, go food shopping, clean, do laundry, put away clothes, (in my case) pick up the puppy.. AND catch up on school work and regular work. And, forget giving space and time for jet lag to be present, it simply has to be pushed through.

Or, as another example, in the last two weeks I have dealt with a ridiculous amount of diarrhea from my puppy, crazy hours of work (no really, I didn’t leave until 11pm last night, and then worked at home until 1am), homework… homework.. and more homework.. then, there are the dishes and laundry that has to get done…. Followed by the sick puppy’s bowel problems transformed in the middle of the night to explosive, (which after working until 1am), and being up at 5am cleaning out a puppy crate and doing laundry to remove the absolutely horrendous smell… leaves (me) totally patience-less (let’s be honest, I was struggling before today with my patience AND filter) and an overwhelming desire to just stick the puppy on the deck and sleep for a day. But, instead, I got up, worked, cleaned him up, worked, cleaned up again, worked, took him to the vet, and worked some more…

So, with that said, the absolute worst part about being single, is having to do everything yourself. There is no one to split work with or take care of things when you are gone.

Everything is you.

Now, do not misunderstand me, I am not even pretending that a single parent’s job is easier or even comparable to mine, but I would submit that the worst thing about their situation is the same, they must do everything themselves… And, while I have not personally experienced being married, I am sure there are a lot of difficult things about it… But, given the last couple weeks that I have had, and the level of stress it has all brought on, I can confidently say it would have been easier to have someone to do the dishes or take out the trash or go grocery shopping.

The worst part of singleness is having to do literally everything yourself no matter what is going on or how sick or tired you are.

The State of the 28th Birthday…

Today I turn 28.

My office on my birthday!

My office on my birthday!

For those who know me, birthdays are awesome, lovely, wonderful, and should be so much fun!.. In fact, I love birthdays so much that whenever possible I make mine and anyone around me’s birthday a week-long event!.. I mean why not?

Birthdays are the one day (or week) a year where showering love, gifts, words of encouragement, and just in general attention are acceptable because after all the chance to return the favor later is part of the fun!

Birthdays allow the chance to just in general love on the person.

Growing up, I thought 28 was SO. OLD. haha

However, today, I love that this is my age. — It feels right, and I feel as though I know exactly who I am at this stage in my life.

This morning I woke up to thunder and lightning (whoa loud) in slush covered Michigan… I choose to believe that it is God’s way of saying “Happy birthday”… And, this is the first time

in my entire life that I have no worries about snow ruining my birthday plans (thank you 58 degree forecast!)

As I look back on my 27th year, so much has changed.

28 things for my 28th birthday:
(in no particular order of importance)

  1. I live in a different state than last birthday.
  2. I have a job I love, and don’t mind allowing to consume ridiculous amounts of my time.
  3. I have a very large, sweet, loving (but loads of work) puppy.
  4. I am weeks away from being done with school!… For a least a little while.
  5. I have lots of plans to travel!
  6. I have an idea of next steps in my life, and what I want to begin working towards on a personal level.
  7. I have never been more sure of my friendships, near and far.
  8. For the first time in my life, I am content with how I look, flaws, acne, weight, and all.
  9. I am excited that I have worked myself down to living off of 75% of my income. — Tithing 10%, gifting 8%, and saving 7%… I have “tricked” myself into this pattern and am totally fine with that!
  10. This year I am excited about reading the Bible from start to finish.
  11. I am excited about reading 40 books this year (two down so far), and intentionally cultivating new gifts and skills.
  12. I love that I spend my job, personal life, and as much time as I want to focusing and loving others!.. How did I end up with this life?!
  13. I am excited to see where God takes me because I have no clue what to expect out of this year.
  14. The only debt I have is student loans (thank you $94k), but I have a plan to pay that off in the next eight years!
  15. I am thankful that I am more compassionate, patient, and have more grace than I did on this day a year ago.
  16. I love that I get to spend more of my 28th year with my family than I have any year in the last five years.
  17. I am so beyond thankful that turning 28 includes contentment.
  18. I am thankful for birthday fairies.. haha
  19. I know people might think it’s silly, but I cherish all the social media birthday wishes, videos, jokes, humor, and love…
  20. I am finally beginning to feel connection here in MI.
  21. I appreciate that I have several projects underway.. even if it is a slow progression.
  22. This year my baby brother gets married to the most amazing woman, my little sister turn sweet 16, and I get another niece!.. Not to mention several best friends are having sweet little ones too!!!
  23. I am happy that at 28 I have finally settled into enjoying this stage of life consistently.. Instead of only finding contentment for short periods.
  24. I can confidently say that my singleness feels like a good fit.
  25. I am a big girl now and own a for real bed (what?!), a washer and dryer, a (paid off) car, a dining room set, a living room set, and I live by myself with a spare room for God to fill however he sees fit, and that I am completely able to pay all bills…
  26. I am excited that at this point in my life I can honestly say I would be more than happy to give anything I own away for free.
  27. Despite the government declaring there are no mermaids, and saying no to building a death star, I have a feeling this is going to be a great year!
  28. For my 28th birthday, I am asking for those around me to pray for three things this year:
    I. More Love and Grace for those around me.
    II. Health (no, really).
    III. For God to use this year to blow me away unlike any other before it.

So, there are the 28 things on my mind for my 28th birthday!

My decorated phone at work.

My decorated phone at work.

January 2013 Life…

This month seems filled with randomness, and we are only nine days in…

I got new tires on my car!.. Expensive, but I love that I can feel the difference in the way it handles! I also was able to get my windshield washer/squirters fixed so I am no longer in danger of not being able to see through the dirt! My excitement is only an indication of the fact that I am solidly an adult now haha

Yesterday, I spent the majority of the day planning and putting together trainings (FINALLY!). I mean, let’s be honest, I have had this on my to-do list for 2 months now. I was also able to (again finally) jot down the basic topics I need to write a script for in order to complete the trainings.. Dang it. I hate when I do not have the time to do things exactly how I want when I need to be organized and linear. Instead I will be forced to complete the written portions of these trainings, and send them to my focus group sans the much more helpful videos explaining things… Oh well, such is my life currently I suppose.

I had a revelation last night, and not that this will surprise anyone who knows me I guess, but I hate and get incredibly agitated when people I am talking to are clearly misunderstanding me, but do no try and understand what I mean, and instead they just argue with what I am saying.. Which just leaves me to know full well we are not understanding each other, but also having no clue how to communicate my point better. So. Frustrating.

I know that I am like that obnoxious cat lady.. or the new parent who thinks their child is the most adorable thing on the planet.. But, I cannot express how much having my puppy makes my temperament better when I am stressed. That is when he is not stressing out too and subsequently having accidents in my house. However, he does little things like squeeze himself between me and whatever I am standing in front of, just to stand there until I pet him. It makes me laugh.

He also does this when he’s missed me:

Vormund laying on my lap before bed.
Melt. My. Heart.

… However, there are times he makes me lose my mind, like last Friday night/Saturday morning/Sunday afternoon when he was clearly stressed out/having bladder issues and having accidents every few minutes… Ugh. — And, then there are the times that he makes my heart race, like this morning, when we walked outside and he barked the deepest bark and growled unlike any noise I have ever heard come out of him.. Scared. Me. So. Bad… talk about a “GOOD MORNING” call — all because the maintenance guy was putting salt down (*facepalm*)! Thankfully he listened and stopped when I covered his mouth and told him it was fine and he was a good boy, but needed to stop barking lol…

And, not to be a complainer.. But, this is the longest winter I have had in 5 years… Which doesn’t bode well since realistically we have only had 3 weeks of snow (if that), and we have another 2 months at the very least! However, thankfully, it has been sunny the last couple days!.. But, I absolutely must find at least ONE thing I like/love about winter in the north.

I am starting to read the Bible in a year today.. although, technically the plan doesn’t start until the 15th, I am going to go ahead an get a jump start on it today.

What a strange and unique year this is going to be if the first 9 days are any indication…

Tired Change…

I am ridiculously tired right now.

I have spent the last three days directing, helping, and providing food and getting supplies for more than a dozen volunteers as we re-vamped the lobby/foyer area of my church and the sanctuary.

It. Looks. Awesome.

Seriously, I am so excited, and I am even more excited at knowing we are not finished, but that each additional thing we do is icing on the incredibly cool cake!

However, throughout it all, talk about a trying and tiring time! Thankfully the first two days went smoothly, we had lots of volunteers, laughter, and the majority of the work went smoothly… As is the case however, after working for more than 12 hours both Thursday and Friday, by Friday night me, my body, my homework, and my puppy were all suffering.

My puppy had spent two full days at this point in his crate with me home basically long enough to feed him, water him, and take him out for a potty break… needless to say he was an emotional almost 70lb wreck, and I was an exhausted and aching owner with homework to do and nothing but sleeping on my mind… It was a very poor combination that lead to multiple potty disasters Friday night and Saturday morning.

By Saturday morning I had basically not slept at all, my puppy had additional potty disasters, and I yelled, scrubbed, and held back tears… Then headed out to get supplies and start the last day of reconstruction…. Which had lots of difficulty getting things back together, directing the chaos, and figuring out how to manage the worse than terrible mood I was in. It wasn’t a pretty moment (or hours worth of moments) inside my head or heart Saturday morning.

Thankfully, everyone around me was filled with grace, and the Lord didn’t fail me in my petitions for help. We had lots of help that got everything together much earlier than I had hoped for… a friend took the pups to allow her dog to tucker him out, and I was able to see the completion of the project looking FABULOUS!

Saturday night I climbed into bed at 9pm.. fell asleep after some reading and homework at 10pm…… and promptly woke up at 1am. Heard a loud crash in the bathroom a few minutes after I woke up that scared both the pups and I (thank you suction cup holding up the razor), so I decided to take the pups out for a potty break….. which also included a potty disaster on the way to the door. — Seriously, I might not survive this stage. Then I fell asleep about 45 minutes later..

Words simply cannot express how thankful I am that the majority of the response to the changes were positive, and those that disliked it kept it to themselves that I am aware of. Afterwards the pups and I packed up and headed to my parents house so he could get worn out even more, and I could get some time with my family…

Now, Sunday evening, after putting in upwards of 50 hours of work in 4 days, my entire body hurts and is sore, and my mind is swimming with fog. So, I wrap up my “weekend” with a cup of sleepytime tea, frozen berries, homework, facebook, blogs, and then some reading before I pass out…

Change is tiring!

Adorably Sick Puppy Update…

Vormund and I went to the vet last night for  his 17 week check up, and last rounds of vaccinations.. along with a check up on a few slight issues he had a couple weeks ago.

Come to find out my cute adorable (big) puppy has been pretty sick for three weeks now! I will not go into detail cause it is gross, but he got another shot, and now has antibiotics, special food, and a pro biotic powder to put on his food.. I am completely amazed at how normal he’s been acting with how sick he’s been. I am a *little* worried that when he starts feeling better, and digestion isn’t an issue he’s going to start putting on more than 5lbs a week… and have a higher energy level. I may die. haha

Either way.. here’s a progression of his growth so far!
 

5 wks
3 wks
7 wks

8 1/2 wks

9wks
9 1/2 wks

10 wks

11 wks
12 wks
13 wks

14 wks
15 wks
16 wks

17 wks

 On December 20th he was 17 weeks and 50.8 lbs. He will be 4 months old on the 23rd.. I was informed that he will be 3/4 of his full weight at 8 months… and at the current conservative weight gain rate, that would put him at roughly 135lbs at 8 months old! Oh man!

And, if you notice, a good portion of the pictures he’s sitting or laying on my lap.. That is my life, but we have officially run out of space on my lap for him to fit, so he spills over onto the floor mostly now, which he’s not a fan of.

He still throws fits when he doesn’t get his way, and usually that’s when he is not allowed to bite my hand when we play, not being able to climb onto the couch with me to cuddle, and having to “be gentle” and not paw at me.

We still have occasional bathroom mishaps.. but he knows every time he does it that he’s in trouble cause he slinks around in circles as he pees.. then bolts for the door and rings the bell. lol 

Currently, he eats about 7 (measured) cups of food a day spread out between 2-3 feedings.

The commands he knows:
No,
Good boy,
Bad dog,
Don’t bite,
Outside,
Sit,
Stay,
Crate Time,
Water,
Food,
Bear,
Bone,
Ball,
Bring it here,
Give it to me,
Leave it,
Wait,
Out,
Move,
Back inside,
Hush,
Don’t bark,
Stop it,
Get it,

The commands we’re working on:
Don’t pull,
By my side,
(Give me) Space,
Gentle,
Be Careful,
Down,
Drop it,
Lay down,
Man Down,
All the way to the Grass,

But of course, all of these commands he often will look at me, then decide not to listen… It’s lovely.

He is a ton of work.. and pretty expensive.. but I love having him around 🙂