Good morning, friends! I cannot believe that this is the very last weekend of 2014! Where has time gone? It seems like only yesterday I was writing by the light of the Christmas tree, preparing myself for the year to come, and now here we are at the end of it … that. flew.
Something I always like to do is end the year by recapping those things that made the past twelve months memorable. In looking back, whether through good times or hard times, there is always something to be grateful for and something to take with you into the new year ahead. So that’s what I’m going to do on here today – honor those things that have brought me to where I am now and that will stay with me as I head into 2015.
Just days into the new year, my Grandma C passed away after a five-year battle with cancer. Aside from my great-grandparents, she was the first of my grandparents to pass away, and one of the most significant losses I’ve experienced in my then 29 years of life. I had the privilege of being with her in the days and hours leading up to her death, and as difficult as it was to lose her, I am forever grateful for the time I got to spend with her before she left us for her heavenly home. It was my honor to speak at her memorial service and share the impact she had on my life, and I have been reminded of all the other wonderful things she taught and imparted to me throughout the course of this year. I miss her every day, but have found comfort in knowing she is with me and that I will see her again. Love you, Gram. <3
Later on in the month, my dad and I took a long weekend trip out to Colorado to visit my brother and nephew. We had a great time together exploring Red Rocks, the little towns of Evergreen and Nederland, and even venturing from Aurora to Denver to Boulder. A bonus to the trip was also getting to see our good friends Steve and Nina, who invited us over for football. It’s always nice to break away from wintertime in Michigan and enjoy the western blue skies and sunshine!
The best part about February was the long weekend we enjoyed at home as part of the Valentine’s / President’s Day holidays. The hubby and I took a nice time-out in the middle of the month and spent quality time at the ranch together. I believe the best things in life are the simple things – some peace and quiet, a good book, a glass of wine – yes, simple and fabulous, indeed!
In March, I finally accomplished my goal of revamping this beloved blog space to make it more in line with my heart as a writer and more user-friendly for all of you. I’ve been very satisfied with the clean template and some of the personal touches I was able to add so that readers and followers can get to know me better. I’ve so enjoyed growing in and sharing this space with all of you this past year!
Later in the month, my girlfriend Emily and I hosted our 2nd Annual ‘My Favorite Things / Girl’s Day Out’ Party at my place and had a blast with more ladies and fun, fabulous things to choose from! I’m thrilled that so many of the ladies enjoyed this event and are looking forward to the one to come this year! I definitely think we’re onto a tradition here!
We had quite the harsh winter last year, and those first days of sunshine and snow melt meant it was time to get out and get some fresh air. One weekend my girlfriend Annie and I decided to take a road-trip down to Livonia for dinner and shopping at Trader Joe’s. On the way back, we journeyed through downtown Northville and explored the area for a bit. Such a cute and quaint place this is – I’d really like to go back again in the future and do a little more shopping, wining, and dining.
Good Friday was a day off of work and we made the most of it by going to our first Tigers baseball game with our friends Emily and Stefan! We had the famous Slow’s BBQ for lunch and then enjoyed a perfect night game in the D!
The rest of Easter weekend, and April altogether, was spent opening up our up north abode for the season! Following our long, cold and challenging winter, we were all too eager to start spring and summer. Getting an earlier start this year was a great blessing as it allowed us to make the most of the warm seasons in one of our very special places!
The hubby and I stopped in Holland on the way up north to explore the annual Tulip Time Festival. It was an absolutely beautiful day and the flowers were majestic in their arrangements and bright colors! Doing this has become a bit of springtime tradition for us, and it’s simply one way to enjoy this fabulous state we live in, Pure Michigan!
The end of May (Memorial Day weekend) was marked with my second trip to Colorado for the year to visit my brother and nephew, this time with my mom. We assisted my brother with moving from Aurora to Colorado Springs and saw some of the sites including Garden of the Gods (one of my favorite places on earth), and the Manitou Incline, which was an exhilarating and fun accomplishment considering how much I have struggled off and on with my foot since it became injured in 2013. Being out in Colorado again was a great way to kick off the summer season!
My eBook officially released and become available for purchase worldwide at the beginning of June. This was a two year project that I was determined to finish, and I am so grateful that I was able to make that goal a reality in 2014! God blessed me with the space and time to write and edit and go through all of the steps in self-publishing, and I am so grateful for all that I learned through this experience and the feedback I’ve received from those who have read it. This was definitely a bucket-list adventure and I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to share my faith story with the world!
Over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, we hosted our dear friends, Emily, Stefan, Nicole, and Logan at our up north abode. Many of our family members were also there. We enjoyed three perfect summer days by the water, taking in the sunshine, exploring the downtown scene, going for walks, and even having a wine and cheese party where all of our fellow marina folk stopped in for an assortment of appetizers and vino! We so loved sharing our special place with the best of friends and look forward to doing this again next year!
July 28th marked our 7th wedding anniversary. We celebrated with our family and strolled down to the beach where we were married. It’s been such an honor being this man’s wife and I am so thankful for the love we have shared through these years.
In August we finally got to enjoy our first real vacation of the year together – a week off in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest, specifically Washington and Oregon. It was one of my favorite trips thus far as we simply took our time road-tripping through the diverse cities and parks. We hiked portions of Mt. Rainier and Olympic National Parks, dipped our feet in the ice-cold ocean, toured Portland and Seattle, and even had time to take a ferry across Puget Sound to explore Bainbridge Island. It was lovely and relaxing and exactly the getaway the two of us needed!
I was honored to be featured on one of my favorite blogs, The Lipstick Gospel (now StephanieMayWilson.com), as part of her Loveliest Things series, where I wrote about five things that make my heart happy. I am so thankful to Stephanie for sharing my post with her readers, and for the opportunity to showcase my own blog and eBook in this way.
The best part about September was hands down The Influence Conference in Indianapolis! It was my first year attending and I was completely blown away by the speakers and truth that was spoken into my heart that weekend! Attending this was a huge exercise in bravery for me as I put myself out there as an author, blogger, and writer among others who share the same passions and interests, and not only that, I went alone and knew NOBODY! But God, of course, showed up and blessed me in making new friends and totally renewed me in His grace and love! It was life-changing for me and is something I really hope to be a part of every year from now on!
October began with a trip to Chicago for work where I spent a couple of days just outside of the city attending a conference. Although I went alone, I had the opportunity to see my sister and niece who live near the city for dinner one evening. Being work-related in nature, it was a nice break away from the normal routine and grind, and made for a great start to my favorite month of the year!
I hit a milestone, turning 30 on October 10th. To celebrate, we combined my birthday with our 2nd Annual Gottschalk Fall Ball and had a bunch of our family and friends over for a fun evening including a cookout, bonfire, hayride, and football.
There’s nothing better than tailgating and football with friends in the fall! This year, us girls went to the big MSU / UM football game and got to watch our Spartans take victory over the Wolverines. It was, in one word, AWESOME! Go Green!
November was a bit of a challenging month with things picking up at work in preparation for holiday programming and my mother-in-law being in the hospital with complications following a routine surgery at the very end of October. As a result, we were experiencing more stress and tiredness than usual, so we decided to do something a little different and give ourselves a true break over the Thanksgiving holiday. We cooked a small yet satisfying feast and our friends Emily and Stefan joined us for “Friendsgiving” at the ranch. The holiday itself, and the weekend altogether, was a great time of rest and seeing family and friends – a perfect way to kick off the Christmas season!
December is a busy month for just about everyone in America. For me personally, it’s the busiest time of year at work, so that means making the most of my downtime by doing things that provide me with true rest and relaxation. In getting my Christmas shopping done by the end of November, I was able to enjoy the holiday season with plenty of quiet time spent by the fire, gazing at the tree, with a cup of coffee or tea in hand. Love these times.
I mentioned the holidays being the busiest time of year at work and that’s because my organization partners with the local Marine’s Toys for Tots Program to provide families in need with food and/or toys for Christmas. This year we had more families sign up for assistance than last year, and that meant the need for more donors, volunteers, and staff efforts, on top of our normal duties and responsibilities. I am proud to say we pulled it off very successfully! It was an absolute blast working with so many different people to serve our community, and I was so blessed to have dear family and friends come out to join in on the fun! Being a part of this helps keep the perspective on what is truly important during this busy, and what can be stressful, season. I’m honored to lead this effort for my organization and depending on what God has in store for the coming year, look forward to doing it all over again next year!
Holiday baking. My Gram C taught me so much about baking and cooking, and I was very excited to carry on her tradition of making goodies like chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter blossoms to give to family and friends for Christmas. This year, I baked with my mom and Grandma Flinn, as well as with my two girlfriends. So many sweet treats to share and indulge in this holiday season! I know my Gram was smiling down on me as I poured and mixed, rolled and baked.
The BEST gift I received for the holidays was having my brother and nephew home for Christmas for the first time in FOREVER! We had an absolute hoot together, enjoying Christmas Eve with our dad’s side of the family and Christmas Day with our mom’s side of the family. The rest of the weekend is now being spent at the ranch, hanging out, relaxing, having fun, and just being together! I love my family and am so grateful for this Christmas all of us had to spend with one another!
So, as you can see, it’s been quite a year … plenty of good times and a lot of great memories over the past twelve months. I’m so incredibly grateful for the opportunities I had to spend time with family, grow in friendship, travel to fun places, grow in my passions, accomplish goals, serve others, and even learn from the challenges that were presented to me, including: continuing to adjust to my position at work, taking on bigger projects and responsibilities, continuing to recover from my heel injury, and heal from anxiety and tension that threatened to steal my joy at times. In ALL the things that came my way this year, there has been much goodness and I thank God for every moment that has brought me to this point and for what He’s going to do moving forward.
Thanks for the adventure, 2014! Here’s a toast to what’s ahead in 2015!