Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015 In Review

Hello, friends! Happy New Year!

I've returned after an unplanned two-month blogging hiatus! I didn't intend to stay away from the blogging world for so long, but between trying to get through my last few weeks of school and coming home for Christmas, it just kind of happened that way. My last month or so of school was c r a z y  ~ and in the span of my last week (from one Wednesday to the next Wednesday), I had four papers and four final exams. (Two of those papers were long research papers. And one of those exams was a take-home that consisted of writing three essays. So in a way, you could say I had seven papers and three exams.)

Yah. I'm just glad I survived. And that it all paid off ~ 'cuz I made the Dean's List. Woot!

Now that I've made my excuses for temporarily abandoning the blogosphere, I'd like to get back into the swing of things by reviewing my 2015. As we begin this new year, it's good to reflect back on last year and all the memories, surprises, challenges, and growth that it brought. So, I present to you my 2015 in review...

January

My 2015 began with a mission trip to the Dominican Republic during the last week of my Christmas break. What a beautiful and memorable trip that was! You can read all about it in these posts:
{D.R. Mission Trip} Part 1: Surrendering
{D.R. Mission Trip} Part 2: Self-sacrifice
{D.R. Mission Trip} Part 3: Fun with the Kids


I also went on the March for Life with my school, and it was my third time attending the annual rally in Washington, D.C. We survived the long, long bus ride (about 27 hours there, 27 hours back), as well as sleeping two nights on the bus + one night on a gym floor. A few of my close friends and I stuck together during our free time and had the best afternoon + evening out on the town in D.C. And most importantly, we marched with thousands of others to stand up for life and unborn babies. It was a pretty great trip.


February

With February came the usual schoolwork grind, and a couple highlights which included me highlighting my hair for the first time, and my sister coming to visit me at school (which was great fun).

March

The highlight of March was my spring break, which I spent at home catching up with friends and family. You can read about the little things that made it special here. Oh, and I also got my braces in March. So fun.

April

The best part of April was coming home for Easter and spending it with my friends from my former college. I got to visit them there, and then bring two of them home with me to spend Easter at my house. It was wonderful to be reunited with these dear friends who I miss so much!


After that, April consisted of wrapping up my sophomore year of college: writing papers, performing in the cabaret, going to spring formal, taking finals, and all that jazz.

May

May was quite the month. For the first week of it, I was finishing final exams, packing up my stuff for storage, packing up the rest of my stuff to bring home, and taking a very relaxing trip to the beach with some good friends.

I finally went home, and not even 48 hours later, I got eight teeth yanked out of my mouth. Thankfully, my recovery was not as horrible as I feared it would be, and I was eating solid foods again within a week. But much to my family's disappointment, I didn't say or do anything strange when I came out of the anesthesia. Darn.


In mid-May, my little sister graduated high school. You can read all about that here.


At the end of May, I embarked on my trip to England with 26 friends + parents from my high school program. So many wonderful, exciting memories from that trip!


June

My England trip carried over into June, and we arrived back in the States on June 6 after the trip of a lifetime. I've documented the trip here on my blog, so you can read all about it in these posts:
{England Trip} Part 1: Oxford
{England Trip} Part 2: Shakespeare, Tolkien, + a Palace
{England Trip} Part 3: Highlights of London
{England Trip} Part 4: Ruins + Countryside
{England Trip} Part 5: Surrounded by Beauty


After I'd recovered from jet lag and settled back in at home, I began a biology class at my local community college. It was rather boring in comparison to the history + literature of England, but I managed.

July

July pretty much consisted of taking my bio class. It also included a fun Fourth of July celebration with family, as well as good times with friends.

August

In August, I sort of spontaneously took a trip to Minnesota to visit two of my college besties, one of whom is a friend from my former college, and one of whom is my friend + now roommate at my current school. I had lots of fun with both of them, and one of the highlights was definitely walking the entire Mall of America, top to bottom, in six hours. Yup. I also enjoyed getting to try Caribou (which both of these Minnesotan friends have always raved about), and I can officially say that I get the hype!


Shortly after my trip, I jetted off to school to help out with orientation and begin my junior year. Sadly, just days after I left and before classes had even started, my grandpa passed away back home. Even though my sister + I couldn't be there, we were able to say our goodbyes to him over the phone a few hours before he passed.


September

September began with my sister + I having to fly home on the second day of classes to attend my grandpa's funeral. It was heartbreaking, but also bittersweet in that we were blessed to see + spend time with so many dear friends + extended family. You can read my reflections about the loss of my grandpa in this post.


The rest of the month continued on as we got into the swing of school, extracurriculars, work, and friends.


October

On October 3, I exited my teen years and turned 20. I had one of the best birthdays ever, as over 30 friends came to the birthday party my roomie threw for me. I was truly touched by the outpouring of love everyone showed me that day, and not to mention my party an absolute blast. I really have the best friends ever!


Later in October, my sis + I went home for fall break, which was truly a treat, since it had been 2 years since I last saw a Michigan fall. And it did not disappoint! I also got to visit my friends at my old college, and it was a splendid time.




October ended with my sister's Halloween birthday, as well as our school's Halloween dance, at which she + I fulfilled our dream of dressing up as Anna + Elsa. It was great fun.


November

November was a whirlwind of performing in the cabaret; my parents + grandma coming to visit; celebrating two of my besties' 21st birthdays; writing paper after paper after paper; and going home for a lovely Thanksgiving break.


December

December was also a whirlwind which consisted of writing paper after paper after paper, finishing up extracurriculars (performances + such), going to our semi-formal dance, and taking final exams.


Then I came home after completing the semester, and Christmas break commenced. It's consisted of relaxing at home, attending + throwing Christmas parties, working a part-time seasonal job, and, of course, celebrating Christmas and New Year's.


So there you have it: my 2015 in review, complete with pictures. What a year! I'm so thankful for the many memories, opportunities, friendships and special moments that it brought, and also for its trials and struggles. I'm grateful for those because they pushed me, challenged me, and helped me to grow + learn more about myself. In 2015, I had my fair share of struggles with academics, with my spiritual life, with sin, with loneliness, with emotional matters. (Don't we all?) But because of these struggles, I have gained more independence and more confidence, I have grown closer to God, and I have become a better person. And that is why I am grateful even for the trials + hard times of 2015.

Here's to a happy, healthy 2016 ~ a brand new year full of possibilities. Here's to the new memories + opportunities + excitement it will bring, as well as the trials + struggles + challenges. May we all grow in our personal lives and our spiritual lives this year, and become more of who God has made us to be.

Happy New Year!

God bless,
~Stephanie

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