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Oh, 2016 (Writing Challenge Day One)

I remember the end of 2009 a little too clearly.

On the one hand, life was a whirlwind as I tied up loose ends, filled up boxes with my old life, and tried to pack everything I could possibly need for most of a year trekking the globe without going over a 50 lb weight limit. Visits to the dentist, visits to the doctor, visits with friends and family wanting a chance to say goodbye all clashed with the normal commitments of the holiday season. Thanksgiving. Birthdays. Christmas. The 2009 holiday season was overwhelming.

Me with my sister, Mary, at the 2009 NLBC Christmas Dinner
and White Elephant Auction. I was excited, but exhausted, and
my journey hadn't even started yet!
I’m fast forwarding seven years, and find myself in that place of being overwhelmed again. So much more has happened than I know how to put in to words. The good and bad, beautiful and ugly, momentous and monotonous – if they were a sewing project, I’d be looking at the pattern and asking what it’s supposed to be.

That feeling of being overwhelmed and that sense of everything changing so dramatically has been so strong in the few weeks since I returned from Kenya, it’s changed everything about how I would have described this year. When I haven’t been working my way through the immediate shock of the last few weeks, I’ve struggled to put the events of last year into an order that gives you a sense of where my head and heart have been in those twelve months. These are all bullet points, and I will elaborate on a number of them at a later time.

January – March
• At work, four members of the coolest six-member team I’ve ever had the privilege of working with (the Wonder Team, as I like to refer to us in my head) moved on to different positions in the month of January. Work became stressful quickly as the two of us left adjusted to the changes their departures created.

A small measure of how tired and stressed out I was -
I put on a pair of hiking sandals and left the house
to go in to the office on a morning when
the temp was
• At church, I teamed up with a couple with a huge heart for youth ministry in the month of March.
• In my family/personal life, my father transitioned to a new set of doctors and started on a more holistic approach to treating his various conditions between January and March. The set of doctors Dad was being seen by were approaching his treatment like he was too far gone to do much more for, and he felt like he was being ignored when he tried to speak up about the way the drugs they were giving him made him feel.

April - June
• At work, it was more adjustments and transitions when I became the only person of the Wonder Team left at the end of April. Work became more stressful than it already was when my bosses made the decision to not immediately fill the vacant position.
• At church, I focused on youth ministry and spent a second year not directly involved in Vacation Bible School in June. The group grew from one steady attender to half a dozen.
• On the home front, my nephew was bitten by a cat, and spent the better part of a week in the hospital. I'm super thankful for Phoenix Children's Hospital - they do an incredible job taking care of kiddos, and they took great care of one of my favorite kiddos.

From the 9th Floor - he was pointing out the fire station just outside his window.
Note the word they have written on the top of the fire station building - HOPE.
July – September
• My father resigned from his position as associate pastor at church in the middle of August. While my parents and my siblings left when he resigned, I stayed.
• The youth ministry continued to grow, to around a dozen teenagers coming regularly.
• In my family/personal life, one of my friends and former World Race teammate passed away from breast cancer early in August.
• Also in my family/personal life, I was able to visit with a group of friends from college, including one who had recently returned from a three year stint as a missionary in Nepal.

Friends (and their little ones)!
Photo Cred: Katie Lanting
• Fundraising for the Kenya trip in November was completed towards the end of August (I blogged about it here - Fully Funded: A Kenya Trip 2016 Update.
    October – December
    • My brother got married in October (woohoo!!!!).

    Name tag from a family dinner the night before the wedding. Yes,
    the dinner was on my birthday. Couldn't have asked for a
    way to start a new year in the life of Cat.
     • I went back to Mombasa, Kenya on a mission trip in November, and the end of the trip included the opportunity to go on safari (You can read the blogs from the trip here - Kenya Trip 2016).
    • I quit my job just before I left for Kenya.
    • The youth ministry continued to grow in October, but we started feeling growing pains in November and numbers started settling down a little. We took them to Winter Jam when it came through in November, which was so much fun for all of us.
    • While I was in Kenya, my partners in youth ministry left for another church. Many of the teenagers who were in the youth ministry followed them.
    • Also while I was in Kenya, the lead pastor at church announced his retirement and that the church needed to search for a new pastor.
    • Shortly after my return from Kenya in December, my aunt passed away.

    I think I could write a book on some of these bullet points, but this is the short version of my life in 2016. Some highs, some lows. Crazy, chaotic, messy, and hard. I’m thankful it’s done, and I’m looking forward to moving into 2017 and a new season – just like I did in 2010.

    This is my first post in response to a twenty-one day writing challenge my friend Annie has been spearheading over at her blog, Mommy Book Blog, and while it’s not too late to get in on the last few days of it, she is on day eighteen today. You can find the details and sign up for the last few prompts on her site!


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