If I haven’t had the chance to tell you yet – Happy New Year! Thanks for sticking with me last year, whether you’re a new reader or a long time reader. I know bloggers say this all the time, but I really am thankful for you. You don’t have to spend your time reading what I have to say. I consider it an honor. Truly. I’m so thankful.
A couple weeks ago, I was reading a blog post by one of my favorite authors, Annie F Downs, and it was essentially a recap of her year. She posted a favorite Instagram photo from each month in 2015. I thought that looked like fun, so I decided to create my own Insta-recap, too.
This year was amazing. Ah-ma-zing. It was also quite horrible at times. Hor-ri-ble. But the good and the bad comes with the territory of growing up; taking risks, trying new things, putting yourself out there. Each year brings a new set of experiences. Some are super rewarding. Some are super challenging. But all are beneficial in growing us; spiritually and emotionally and sometimes physically.
Alright, I’m going to stop myself before I get super deep about the reality of life. This is supposed to be a fun post! So here it is, without further ado, my 2015 insta-recap.
January 2015 – New Years Eve
Where was I when 2015 got started? I was at Union Station in downtown Kansas City with some of my closest friends watching balloons fall from the ceiling (a few minutes too late, actually, it was hilarious) and cheers-ing the new year with champagne in hand. I remember thinking in that moment “2015 is going to be a great year”. Spoiler alert: it was.
At the end of January, I had my 2nd surgery, as part of the remove-my-colon-and-create-a-new-one process. This surgery involved creating a “new colon” aka JPouch out of my small intestine. I’m still marveling at how amazing the human body is (and how creative God is). So January and February were major recoup months. It’s interesting, really. Going from being a normal, walking-talking human being then suddenly be knocked down and you can barely stand or walk or even have a strong voice. It’s majorly humbling. As I began to regain my strength, I was able to live like I was on vacation – reading books, going to coffee shops, writing more, taking a bunch of naps, and even see friends that I haven’t seen in a long time. And that’s what this picture represents. Happiness, friendship, thankfulness and recovery.
March 2015: Friends, Friends, and More Friends
I’ll be honest, once I got back to KC in the end of February and moved on into March, nothing really exciting happened (ha!) But what I loved about March was that it held some of my absolute favorite weekends with friends. Some old Iowa pals came to visit during the Big 12 Basketball Championship weekend (pictured) and I had the BEST time with them. We did the most random things and I think I laughed the entire time they were here. That following weekend, some friends of mine from my hometown came to visit and we had one of my favorite “girls weekends” ever! I gave them a “scavenger hunt” list of things to do in KC, which included “dance in the middle of Crown Center” and “chill at the sculpture park at Nelson-Atkins Museum”. So many happy memories from the month of March.
April 2015: The one with the last surgery
This is probably my favorite photo/memory of the year. My last surgery took place on April 23rd and it was the third and final surgery, completing a nearly 9 month long surgery process, completing a year long suffering through the worst colitis flare ups, completing a 12 year battle with a disease that started when I was in 5th grade. The picture on the left was the day in August that I decided to go through with surgery. The picture on the right was the day I left the hospital after the final surgery. You guys, things drastically changed for me after this day. I didn’t know it then, but my life was changed for the better after that last surgery, in ways I never would have thought back in August 2014. My life has been richer, more exciting, and full of more joy and health than I ever though possible. It’s like everything finally took a turn for the better after 12 years. I was, and am, free.
Bonus April photo: Fast Food Formal!
I love this picture. I love these kids. I love this staff. I loved everything about this day. We took the Mission Church KC youth group (#MCYG) to three different fast food chains for a progressive prom meal, then went back to a house for a dance party. It was epic. And I love them. Did I mention I love them?
May 2015: Enjoying my new life
Not every month is full of exciting events or spontaneous activities. Some are super chill. For me, that month was May. May holds some significance for me. It was the month were I went through my last recovery period from the last surgery. Just like spring brings new life, this month signified new life for me. Life post-surgery. Once again, this month gave me lots of moments to relax, be with friends, and just enjoy life again. It was a really sweet time with God, too. I feel like God and I had this cool breakthrough in some areas of my life. This picture is from Tulip Time, a week-long dutch celebration in a small town in Iowa. It has always been one of my favorite things to do in May.
June 2015: The start to best summer EVER
At the beginning of June, my friend Ashley and I sat down at a Starbucks, decided what fun things we wanted to do this summer, then bought all our tickets; officially making these things happen. I’m so glad I did because it made this summer 10 times more adventurous and exciting! Last summer I could barely do anything. I was stuck inside my house most days, crying because I was in pain and was too afraid to go anywhere. I feel this summer totally redeemed last summer, two times over. June was just the beginning of these crazy awesome adventures! I love this picture because I loved this weekend. Here, we’re at an event called Boulevardia in the West Bottoms district in KC. (It was very Coachella-esque with not near as good fashion.) The day before that, we went to our first Royals game of the year which featured a celebrity softball game. An epic weekend to start an epic summer.
July 2015: Trip to Chicago
This trip will go down as one of my absolute favorites. We did yoga in an airport. Got lost in the city. Saw the bean. Put our feet in Lake Michigan. Ate delicious pizza. Changed into our festival clothes behind the arena. Watched Kari Jobe sing “Forever” live and it was ah-maz-ing. Rapped it out with Trip Lee. Worshiped with Lauren Daigle. Walked way too many miles. Literally ran to catch the last train out of the city. MET UP WITH MY FRIENDS AND FAVORITE PEOPLE LAUREN AND CAITLYN. (yes, that one deserved all caps). Ate at new restaurants. Watched the worst movie in the world. Shopped at the cutest downtown ever. Laid around and did nothing. Met new people at an after-church potluck. Drank some good coffee. Laughed more than I have in a long time. It was perfect.
July-August 2015: #MCYG Summer Camp
Alright, I’m stretching this one, but since it was technically in both July AND August, I gave it it’s own headline. We weren’t able to attend summer camp where we usually go, so we created our own. Imagine: a group of 20-somethings with little youth planning experience, putting on our own CAMP. But, since I love planning events, I was thrilled to take the reigns on organizing and outlining the weekend. It was an experience, for sure. Not everything went the way we (namely, I) planned. But at some point you just gotta roll with the punches because life rarely goes as planned. You just gotta trust it to God, because you know something, it was never our event anyways – it was His. That’s what I learned from this experience. Honestly, this camp will always hold a special place in my heart. From the lip-sync battle, to small group times, to worshiping around one lone guitar for two hours. It was so so so amazing. (I think I say amazing a lot, but I don’t have any other words to describe all this amazing-ness!)
August 2015: 5K, baby!
I’ve never run a 5K before (nor have I ever been healthy enough to do one) so this was quite a feat for me! It was a Foam 5K so we got sprayed with neon bubbles while we ran, then fist-pumped the night away at the huge rave after party. I never knew how fun a 5k could be – makes me want to do more!
August Bonus: Went to my first Chiefs game this month. This deserves a special shout out because CHIEFS ARE IN THE PLAYOFFS, BABY! If we make it to the Super Bowl, I might cry.
September 2015: Influence Conference in Indianapolis
Two awesome things about this trip. One, I got to met some internet friends who are now real-life friends. Two, I got to travel to Indianapolis which is a place I never thought I’d fall in love with like I did. The writer in me wanted to attend this conference. The traveler in me wanted to explore a new city. This combination made for one epic weekend. ICYMI: Here’s the post I wrote about the conference.
September bonus: Staggs Weekend
I couldn’t not give this weekend a special headline of it’s own. We celebrated memorial weekend with a Royals game (because obviously) and a trip to Worlds of Fun because we wanted to be twelve again. We laughed and made fun of each other and had good conversations and it was awesome.
SUPER SEPTEMBER BONUS: In September, I got to see Taylor Swift in concert. Just wanted to throw that out there. Yes, I bought an official 1989 tour t-shirt and yes I wear it proudly and yes sometimes I put on red lipstick and 80’s sunglasses and pretend I’m her.
October 2015: Wicked!
“Because I knew you, I’m changed for the better.” This show was SO MUCH MORE than what I thought it was going to be. Such a fun and classy experience with some of my favorite people. Highly recommended.
October Bonus: Halloween Bash 2015
OCTOBER SUPER BONUS: the Kansas City Royals won the World Series and it was AMAZING! Where was I when the Royals won the World Series? I was downtown in a sea of people packed like sardines on the shoulders of my friend shouting “LET’S GO ROYALS” behind the ESPN post-game show hosts. *dusts off shoulder* *pops collar* You can view the videos on my Instagram page.
November 2015: Thanksgiving with the fam
This post actually works for both November AND December because these two holidays were probably my favorite yet. I love spending time with my family. I love watching movies together, drinking hot chocolate while watching Jimmy Fallon with my mom, and staying up late with my brother, and getting breakfast with my dad. So many memories were made over the Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season. I’m thankful for our time together, just the four of us right now. Collectively, we knew a lot of families who were missing loved ones or hurting in some way this holiday season. And I think that made us cling tighter to each other. Our time together is sacred and short and should be well spent.
December 2015: Celebrations and Holidays at Home
Speaking of treasuring our time, I was so thankful to spend many of my days in December with friends. From church Christmas parties, to Secret Santa parties, to celebrating in our hometown, I was surrounded by love and joy and friends who are like family, and family who have become friends. I was (and still am) truly thankful for the people God has blessed me with. And I’m hoping 2016 will be filled with just as many silly and joy-filled memories.
PS – For your entertainment, here’s my dog in a Christmas sweater
On to 2016
My prayer for 2016 is simple; more peace, more joy, less control, less fear. 2016 may take me far away or it may keep me right here. It’s inevitably going to be filled with exhilarating highs and rock-bottom lows. But I’ve learned this past year that when I surrender my control to the One who ordains each day perfectly…that is when I truly thrive and enjoy life. And even though hard times are going to come, there’s hope in God’s sovereign power.
“He is before all things. And in Him, all things hold together.” – Colossians 1:17
I’ll be posting about my goals for 2016 soon, so be sure to check back for that! Tomorrow is another Twenty Tuesday post and it’s a good one, guys. Can’t wait for you to read it.