#NeverDull2016 Year in Review

At the beginning of the year I was asked by several people, and challenged by several more to come up with a word or theme for 2016. I am not really a goal setter. I do not have enough organization as a personality to plan things out well…Nor do I enjoy it. I more often than not fake being organized, and typically use all of my organizational capacity for my job.

However, this year I decided to try to pick a word or theme. So, I picked “Never Dull”. It felt like a way of focusing on all the big and little things, noticing how interesting and worth while life can be. After having a few hard years, I needed a year not focused on healing or regrowing, but instead a year focused on the life I have, the good, bad, interesting, growing, and adventures that can be found every day!

Thus, #neverdull2016 became my social media hashtag.

You can read my 2015 year in review posts here.

So, what a year 2016 was!

January

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We had a record-breaking snowstorm in DC, with over 30 inches of snow in 24 hours.
My sister came to visit, and I surprised her with a whirlwind trip to NYC.

February

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Uganda team meetings started! #Ugandaexcited
I studied Romans with a group of other leaders.
I got to tour the Capitol building for the first time.

March

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Threw a bachelorette weekend for one of my best friends.
We continued our Easter tradition and several college best friends came and stayed. – We failed again at going to the top of the Washington Monument lol
I started my big side tattoo!

April

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One of my girls from MI came to visit for her Spring Break.
I went to Philly and got to hang out with some of my favorites.
Threw a super fun fundraising house party for clean water wells in Uganda.
I also started having much more regular meetings with other churches to talk about First Impressions things.

May

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One of my best friends got married! #Howboutthemappels
Our Uganda meetings started happening twice a month!
People continued to join us at the gym haha

June

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We had the 2nd Annual Race for H2Ope Run/Walk fundraising event for our Uganda mission.
I went to Nashville, did a whirlwind visit, and helped her drive back to DC for the summer.
I continued my tattoo process.
I got to help teach dance classes throughout the summer with a super fun group of ladies!

July

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I finished my tattoo just in time for it to heal before going to Uganda!
Our team went to Uganda and dug 2 clean water wells! You can read more about it here.
Our house shifted as one roommate left and a new one began living with us.

August

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I spent the first 8 days of the month in Uganda.
I went on my first date in a year – Had a great time, but it didn’t go anywhere.
We did a presentation at the Fairfax JDC about our work in Uganda.

September

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I went to Disney World for the first time! – With a ton of my family! It was awesome!
Family Dinner Mondays started up again for the fall. – It has been such an amazing weekly time!
College friends had a free weekend, so they came to visit and we all headed to the beach!
A group of us undertook project get Amy’s iron up.. which meant a more strict diet than normal; it sucked and was great all at the same time.
I put all of my roommates on a traveling ban because we travel SO much…. it failed miserably. lol

October

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I went to visit 6 churches to learn from them and deemed it my #tourdechurches – It was amazing!
Our church celebrated its 20th anniversary.
My little brother’s wife had their first baby! – She’s so cute!

November

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I was able to go to Puerto Rico for free cause I have lucky friends haha
I had to say goodbye to friends who followed a God-given dream across the country.
My roommates and I are now fluent in food as a love language.
I finally finished my “corner office” for my consulting work!

December

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This is always one of my favorite months in DC. There’s so much happening, fun parties and sweet time with friends.
I got to spend a lot of time with my family for Christmas, it was amazing.
I got to snuggle my new niece.

Overall

I feel like this year was full of adventures, big, small, and everything in between.

How did this year compare to what I thought it would be? – You can see some of my goals and predictions here.

In some ways I feel like it was pretty spot on… In others it was close, and obviously in some ways it was totally different.

In general, my sentiments are: What a beautiful year it has been.

I find myself grateful. Incredibly grateful that I was able to experience such amazing things this year with so many wonderful and amazing people. I feel rich with friendships and people I love. I am grateful for the adventures and the laughter. What an incredible year full of ups and downs and everything in between.

#Neverdull2016

That One Time I Bought a Puppy…

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Remember that one time about 3 1/2 years ago that I bought a puppy?

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Cute. Sweet. Little tiny puppy.

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And then he started growing…. In size and personality.

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I knew my sweet pups would grow.. and grow.IMG_0977

I just didn’t realize that he would continue to grow, and grow, and grow.. and of course grow!

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I got the pups because I’ve always wanted a “large dog”.. It’s actually on my bucket list. So, I went through large dog breeds, and researched their personalities, quirks, aggressiveness, and then compared them to the lifestyle I have to make sure things matched.

Great Dane, that’s the breed I settled on, cause why not “go big”… and if I’m going big, why not get a male so I would have the bigger version of big.

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Growing up, we had “medium-large” mutt dogs… aka little tiny puppies in comparison and let’s be honest, no one gave a second glance to.

So, as mentioned, my pups continued to grow… I learned how to train him, keeping in mind how big he would get, and wanting to make sure I trained him to be large. Which meant, training him to not take food, to not tear things up, to sit, stay, leave it, no, go, move, get out-of-the-way, come, back up, and a plethora of other practical commands.IMG_4453

Trust, “leave it” and “get out-of-the-way” are two of the most handy commands to teach a Great Dane.
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Never before did I realize how much attention he would bring to us himself. How many of the same questions I would have to answer repeatedly on the same walk. How many times I would have to tell people his weight, name, breed, and name again because they misunderstood me the first time!

IMG_3053 My pups and I have moved six times in the course of our life together. We have traveled literally more miles than I can remember. He is ever my companion, snuggling on the one piece of furniture he’s allowed on, and getting to go bye-bye are his two favorite things.

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He is stubborn, lively, silly, pushy, rude, friendly, and cuddly…. possibly all reflections of his owner!IMG_6078

The pups and I have been through some rough seasons of life, some really fun ones, and everything in between.IMG_1207

He is the best “party trick” that there is, and at (currently) 205lbs he is the largest dog most everyone (including myself) have ever met.

He is loving, but there are some pretty serious dangers in having such a large dog… He has also accidentally broken a bone in my foot from stepping out of a vehicle directly onto my foot. He has hip-checked me and caused me to slam into things, which has caused lots of bruises. – Once in the bathtub when I was trying to bathe him, and I was hip-checked cause he shifted… I was sure I had almost died. He has stepped on, sat on, laid on, and of course pawed at me causing a plethora of minor cuts and bruises.IMG_3834

Sometimes, I find myself annoyed at him, frustrated with him, and having a lot of extra work because of him. But, then I am reminded of how perfectly suited of a companion he is for me.

 

All the snuggles and kisses make it worth it!

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Remember that one time I got a puppy? While that created some of the most work for myself, it has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself.IMG_4169

….. But, for the love, please stop asking if he’s a horse or I have a saddle for him! – I’m tired of laughing at that same lame joke!

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So Many Words, So Tired…

I have been slowly cataloguing in my head a list of things I want to share, blogs I want to write, and topics I want to discuss and process more thoroughly. My mind feels alive and vibrant and raging in the very familiar way.

Yet, I find myself exhausted at the end of every day. Literally spent and without energy left to clearly think and process the way I so nobly think and plan about all day long.

So, in an absence of clear thoughts, here is a Hodge podge of pictures from life lately…

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But for now, I am processing, praying, thinking, strategizing, planning, and laughing my way through every day… And then climbing into bed way later than I planned and needed almost every night.

 

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:

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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.

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Vormund at 9 weeks old (technically in 2012)

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“Indestructible” bed.

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At 1 year old and 130lbs.

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

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I saw some of the most breathtaking skies:
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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:

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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.

Learning Lately…

So, a few quick things that I am learning lately:

Applying for jobs is obnoxious and monotonous. (46 applications sent, 6 rejections, 2 requests for phone interviews)

Packing remains one of my least favorite things.

I am reading 1 Samuel, and learning a lot of interesting things about Saul… In my head he’s a viking now… I never realized the Bible emphasized so many times that he was shoulder and head above everyone else in height.

Writing a book is fun, takes work, but it is way more enjoyable when you are doing it with someone else.

Adventure is around every corner.. Literally, no matter what happens in my life I am realizing that it feels like an adventure… Maybe of epic proportion sometimes.

Having the time to actually get breakfast, dinner, coffee, Skype, and talk on the phone with people I love is truly a wonderful thing; it always reminds me of how blessed I am by those who love me.

I am a little shocked at how busy I have been sans a job. I am not entirely sure how that happens, but I do not really mind at the same time 🙂

I have been getting a plethora of sweet notes, e-mails, texts, and voice mails by people who I never realized cared so much for me. It has really been like getting surprise flowers, it warms my heart tremendously!

Somehow, I regularly forget how much I love salsa dancing. And then, I am reminded once again how much fun it is to dance with other people who also love dancing… And that it is a crazy work out (I am feeling a tad sore this morning).

I went through old tweets of mine that included pictures and was amazed at everything that has happened over the last year, how much the pups has grown,  not to mention how much I have learned, travelled, and accomplished this year. So. Amazed.

Overall, as I sit with my cup of coffee from my favorite coffee shop, I am feeling blessed and amazed as I reflect over the last year. I cannot wait to see what is coming this year!