Before I begin, I will say this. 2015 was the hardest year I have ever experienced in my whole life. I am not sorry to see it go. But I am so thankful that our God is a God of new beginnings. We are about to usher in a brand, shiny new year and I couldn't be happier. Bring it on 2016!
In January, I took a leave of absence to stay home and help my mom. She was beginning to decline quickly with her ALS and I just wanted to be free to spend as much time with her as I could. I'm so glad I made that decision. The day I left, my whole class circled around me and prayed for me and my mom. It was such a sweet moment and one I will never forget.
We also traveled to Mississippi to celebrate Steve's aunt and uncle's 60th wedding anniversary. They are still so in love after all these years.
For John's 28th birthday, we took him and Ashley out for sushi. That's his favorite!
In February, Laura came home for a quick visit.
We cheered on the Seahawks as they played the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.
Boston got a historic amount of snow and Laura sent us many pictures that looked like this...
Meanwhile, we got just a tiny bit of snow here...
Ashley and John went on a trip to California, and I kept the kids all by myself for 4 days. How did I do it with four kids under four??! This is why you have kids when you're young. :)
And we celebrated David's 4th birthday and Caroline's 2nd birthday.
In March, we went on a trip to Hawaii where we pretty much lived in paradise for a week.
Spring came to Charlotte.
We celebrated St. Patrick's day be getting Mexican food while sitting outside on a beautiful day!
We celebrated this sweet boy's first birthday...
...and my mom's 74th birthday. I was so thankful God gave her 74 years here.
We did lots of normal stuff, too, like spending time with these cuties.
In April, David started t-ball...
We dyed eggs and celebrated Easter...
Mark came home for a visit. He also found out that he was chosen for the Boren Fellowship to study in Jordan.
Laura got her wisdom teeth out, so I went and stayed with her for a week in Boston. We had fun together and she did so well!
Lindy got a job in NYC and Sean went up there with her to help her move in. I will always remember that she found out she got the job on April 1st. I thought she was playing an April Fool's trick on me, but she wasn't!
Sadly, the same day Lindy found out she got the job in NYC, Mark's girlfriend, Kalli, found out her dad was diagnosed with cancer. He died just a few short weeks later. It was such a hard time for her family.
In May, Steve and I traveled to the eastern part of North Carolina to see our sweet neighbor, Kelsey, get married. She is such a horse lover and got married on the day of the Kentucky Derby-May 2!
While we were there, we stopped by and made a quick visit to see Steve's sister, Angela, at the beach.
We traveled to NYC to take Lindy some of her things and see her new apartment. On the way, we stopped in Washington to visit Mark and take him to dinner.
We celebrated Ashley's 28th birthday...
And went strawberry picking...
It was finally the time of year to start making one of our favorites--fruit pizza!
We got to enjoy lunches outside...
Mark came home for a visit.
And pool season started.
June was a hard month. My mom took a terrible fall at the very beginning of the month and had to have staples put in her head. Her health began to be on a rapid decline and it was so hard to watch. Steve's cousin's son got married in June and we hosted his family for almost a week before the wedding.
After the wedding, Steve's sister, Debbie, and her family moved to Arizona. It was sad saying goodbye to them.
June was hot as blue blazes. We spent a lot of time just trying to cool off by getting ice cream and going swimming. We had lots of fun with the kids!
We started watching Parenthood and binge watched it all summer long. It is now my very favorite show ever!
On June 20th, we traveled to the mountains of North Carolina to see my niece, Brianna, get married. The day of her wedding was a torrential rainstorm, but the rain stopped right before the wedding started.
When my mom was diagnosed with ALS, one of the goals she set for herself was to attend Brianna's wedding. It was SUCH a hard day for her, but she made it. It was a bittersweet time.
My mom continued to decline in July. We knew that she was probably near the end of her life, but we just weren't sure when God would take her home. She was in such bad condition at this point, and unable to really do anything for herself. We spent a lot of time in June and July looking for around the clock health care. My aunt, Karen, who is a CNA spent the months of June and July being my mom's full time nurse.
We had already scheduled a family beach trip in July and since Karen was with my mom every minute, I felt okay to go ahead and go. We had a good time, but I was worried about my mom the whole time we were there.
When we got back from the beach, it was only about a week until my mom passed away. I wrote all about that here. It was a sad, but hopeful time. We were so glad God healed her and she wasn't suffering anymore. But it was so hard to say goodbye.
Lindy's boyfriend, Sean, also lost his mom to ovarian cancer on the day of my mom's funeral. Lindy decided to come back to Charlotte to be with Sean. He had now lost both of his parents within a nine month span. Needless to say, July was an extremely difficult and life-changing month for all of us.
While we were busy all summer trying to take care of my mom and coping with her loss, life was continuing to roll along...as it should. Laura had met a wonderful guy and had started a long distance relationship. He lives in Houston and she is in Boston. Her story is here.
Steve and I took a trip to the Pacific Northwest...one of our favorite places to go!
When we got back, we celebrated our 30th anniversary on August 17th. It was just a regular day, but I am so thankful I get to do life with him. He is perfect for me.
School started and I was so glad to be back teaching again!
Laura and Lindy had their birthdays. Laura was in Boston, but we celebrated here with Lindy by having dinner with the family at Maggiano's.
Mark came home for a few weeks before he left for Jordan. It was so hard saying goodbye to him!
And Ashley and John found out they were expecting Baby #4!!
September was a happy, exciting month for our family. Lindy and Sean got engaged on September 18th after dating for six years!
Laura came home and surprised her the next day!
And my dad took a trip with a good friend of his to the Midwest to see the Green Bay Packers play at Lambeau Field.
October began our crazy, rainy fall. We had the weirdest weather all season long and it is still continuing.
Our church celebrated its 50th anniversary. It was a rainy, awesome weekend.
We met under a tent and all three pastors that had been a part of our church's history spoke. My dad was one of them. We had a full choir and outdoor baptisms and it was a really special day.
We went out to dinner to celebrate Steve's birthday.
And we spent a weekend up in the mountains with Ashley and John and the kids.
We laughed so hard because the day we got there, it was so foggy you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. But we had a picnic anyway!
For Halloween weekend, we went to the mountains again with our neighbors. Ashley's kids all came down with the stomach bug so nobody could go trick-or-treating. They had to come to our house a week later.
In November, my whole entire family (minus Mark and my brother's baby) took a trip to Texas to see Baylor play Oklahoma. My mom and dad met at Baylor and that was such a special place to them. When my mom died, we all decided that in the fall we would take a trip to Baylor to see a football game in her honor. We had such a great time and made lots of wonderful memories.
Thanksgiving was at our house again this year and it was such a nice day together.
When December rolled around, all of us girls went over to my Dad's house and decorated his Christmas tree and his house for him.
On December 9th, Mark came home from Jordan early and TOTALLY surprised me!! I am usually pretty hard to fool, but apparently my whole family was in on this and they all did such a good job of keeping it from me!
December was a SUPER busy month, full of parties and get togethers with friends. The whole Christmas season was unusually warm. It was in the high 60s and 70s the entire time. It also seemed to rain constantly. So.....that is definitely NOT my favorite kind of Christmas weather. But we made the best of it anyway.
We took Steve's mom to see the Singing Christmas Tree...
Attended party after party....
Got to spend some time just being cozy...
And watched a lot of Panthers football....
The Tuesday before Christmas, we had a family night with just our family. We made Mexican and the kids got to open their presents early. It was a fun night.
On Christmas Eve, we went to the Christmas Eve service with my dad and my Aunt Francine, who flew in from Texas to spend the holidays with my dad. Then we came back to our house for appetizers.
Christmas morning we had breakfast at our house. All my family came over and we spent the day opening presents and hanging out together.
Then on Christmas night, we went over to Steve's mom's house and had another round of food and gifts.
It was all so much fun and so special. But, oh my goodness....I was TIRED after all that!
So...that is our year of 2015. God has been so faithful to us this year. Through all the ups and downs, He has been there. I am so thankful for His love and goodness to us every single day.
I am praying that 2016 is going to be a year that is a little less eventful, but it is already shaping up to be another busy, full year for our family. I have a wedding and new grandbaby right around the corner. But, whatever life brings, I know we will be able to face it because God will be walking right there with us every step of the way.
May you have a WONDERFUL NEW YEAR too!