I know it was hard for alot of people who I love. People lost jobs, loved-ones died, and despite their best efforts, some of my friends are now divorced and numerous other hardships were faced. I too had some not-so-wins along the way.
But, as I had several hours to contemplate the year on our drive across country and back this holiday season, I kept thinking about all the awesome things I cherished this year. So, here they are- seems easier to group them in chronological categories than in a count-down order:
Stuff I did
In case you didn't know, I'm a public affairs officer in the Air Force Reserves and I get to do some cool jobs in that capacity. In 2009, I was selected to work on the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee to demonstrate a peaceful transfer of power to the civilian leader of our military, which regardless of your political bent, this is an amazing thing! I worked community relations along the parade route on that freezing day in January and got a iPhone pic of the Obamas as they walked for a bit.
From Feb-May, I worked at Andrews AFB, helping a great staff become even better and getting to know an amazing officer- Maj (Lt Col Select) Maggie O'Hara. Now, they taught us in Officer Training School that you are first a leader and it shouldn't matter what your career field is, that you should be able to walk into any office and lead it. That's what Maj. O'Hara did. She is a helicopter pilot by trade, but was placed in charge of the public affairs operations at one of the most high-profile bases in the country. It was an honor to serve under her, and I'm not just saying that in the inflated way we praise each other in the military. I learned more from her leadership than probably from anyone else in my military career and I gained a champion and friend.
Besides Maj. O'Hara and the other great folks at Andrews, it was a win for me to work on some cool projects:
- Welcoming home the crew (minus the captain) of the Maersk-Alabama
- The Soldier Ride for The Wounded Warrior Project
- Securing Stephen Colbert to do a flight with the Thunderbirds (even though it wasn't at our air show)
- The 2009 Joint Service Open House.
- Meeting President Obama!
This is a picture I took right after shaking his hand.
8- In September, I got a life-affirming opportunity to become an instructor at the Defense Information School. I hope to teach my first course this month, but just going through the Instructor Training Course confirmed in me that I am made to teach adults.
We went to Nicaragua together in 1993 and have kept in touch ever since.
This is a picture of us hanging out after our separate trips in 1995
Alece is an amazing person. She has a blog you should read. She's not afraid to let people see the work God is doing in her, even in the midst of the fire. She has friends all over the world, many through her blog, so I am honored to know her- for real. This year, she has encouraged and inspired me to write more, to blog more, to forgive more and to love more.
She was my spiritual life dorm director at ORU, which meant that she was mentor/leader to me and 8 other chaplains in our dorm (Braxton, if you must know). To say she was a pivotal part of my spiritual development would be a massive understatement. We didn't keep in touch after graduation in 98, but we reconnected this summer as I passed through Nashville (see #5).
She's a lawyer turned artist and she sees beauty in everything and everyone. At ORU, I wanted to be like her because she had something genuinely nice to say about every one she ever saw and she actually said it. Told women they had nice legs, told guys she liked their eyebrows. No fear or hesitation. Pure love. For someone like me, who finds something to fix in just about everything, she is an inspiration. She also blogs (though not enough!).
5- My Aunts Martha and Barbara
My mom is the fourth of six kids. Barbara is married to the oldest brother, Peter. Martha is the youngest sister. They both live in Kingsport, TN, along with their oldest sister, Pam. My sister, also Martha (both are named after our great-grandma), used to spend summers with Aunt Martha's family as a nanny for her four kids. Now, the kids are almost all grown up and my sis has five (!) kids of her own who she wanted to take to spend time with them. I went along because I'm awesome and also didn't want her making that 14-hour drive with kids by herself. Not only did I get to spend time with my sister, nephews and niece, but I also got to know my cool Tennessee cousins better, and best of all, got to know and appreciate the precious people my aunts are and relate to each other as adults.
(l-r: Barbara, Pam, Martha, Anna, Martha)
(Aunt Pam used to live in Tulsa near and with us, so I didn't need to reconnect with her, just enjoyed seeing her again!)
Places I went
4- In August, John and I went to Florida and Georgia as part of a combined 4th anniversary/John-getting-an-award trip. You can read about his award here. We had a blast at Disney World, taking grateful advantage of free tickets and military discounts, plus going to our favorite restaurant, Seasons 52.
3- New York City- 9/11 memorial ride
There's a whole blog about this here.
I was on a team of 13 people from my church. I was the team blogger, so you can read all about it here (start in the first one in October). There were many highlights for me, but overall, I loved the team we worked with at the Sonshine Center in Iloilo. They are a well-trained, many-gifted, excellence-focused group of single men and women, couples and families. They opened their lives and ministry to us and their servant-attitudes were contagious. Thanks to Facebook and blogging, we get to keep in touch and continue the work that was started there.
This is me with some of the lovely single ladies on the Sonshine Center staff.
1- So here we are at #1, and I feel this should be the most significant experience I had in 2009. I've only mentioned nine things so far, but my iPhoto folders tell me there are so many more! I got my motorcycle license and a motorcycle. I got an iMac and learned how to use it. John and I went through the training and home study process to be foster parents (no placements yet, though). And all these things have the potential to shape what will happen in the coming year(s). But one thing shines above to get the #1 spot.
CLC Women's Retreat
The speaker, Rebecca Contreras, prayed over me during the retreat and had a word for me that I believe was from God. Basically, God called me to get off the bench and get on the field. For many years, I have been cheering others on to pursue and fulfill the call of God on their lives, while being content to let my own dreams wait on unknown factors. This moment awakened my dream to be a college professor, which is why I'm currently applying for a PhD in Communication from the University of Maryland. I don't know if/when I'll get accepted, but I earnestly believe this is the crucial "tipping point" of the year. This is why I pursued the instructor job, and will hopefully be a major factor in what 2010 looks like for me.
Wow. I hope this doesn't take you as long to read as it did to write. My blogs aren't usually this long, but it was alot to cover! Thanks for going on this journey with me through my fantastic year. If your year wasn't as awesome, I pray this next one will be "the bomb" (does anyone still say that?).
If you're reading this on Facebook, please click over to my actual blog to comment. I'm signed off of Facebook for a while to reset and refocus for the year.
What were your highlights of 2009?