The first week and a half of the year was spent dashing around in our freezing weather and then on January 10th my sister, cousin, and I headed off to Ghana, West Africa.
Our trip to Ghana was exciting to say the least and we had a lot of amazing experiences while we were there including going out into The Bush, seeing a Ghanaian wedding, and exploring the market place. The main reason we went was to paint the house of a family we know who lived there. What I didn’t realize is that the paint combined with the heat would make me rather sick (I’m sensitive/allergic to chemicals and ever since I had Lyme disease heat has bothered me greatly, so going from -6 to 100+ weather was crazy). I spent a good portion of the trip in bed, fighting off exhaustion and the feeling of worthlessness. Needless to say, it was not the trip I had envisioned but I still learned so much and accomplished a fair amount. I’m really thankful I was able to go. The best part of the trip was meeting beautiful people with incredible stories that challenged me in many different ways.
On the 26th we arrived in Florida where we met up with the rest of our family to prepare for a business get-together.
I spent the first week of February in Florida helping out with our business get-together and visiting family. Then on the 8th my family drove to Georgia where we had the amazing privilege of attending a Salt and Light Conference hosted by John Maxwell. The conference was inspiring and challenging and very growth-inducing.
While at the conference I also had a very needed talk with a writing acquaintance of mine. He really helped push me into gear and get back on the right course with my writing. I promptly spent the next several days (while we were visiting friends in the area) working on moving forward with what had been a rather stagnant part of WLHYL. I also got to do a book signing on Valentines day which was cool.
Then, 37 days after we left home, we arrived back on a beautiful (and stormy) Monday. I spent the rest of the month working on my writing, getting back into the groove at home, and re-entering life in general.
March was spent focusing on my writing. I buried myself in books and blog posts and edits and accomplished a grand amount. My main focus was on writing WLHYL, but I also spent time redesigning my blog.
The second week of March was a special one for me: I got my first pair of glasses. My headaches decreased greatly and my world was suddenly a lot clearer. Nine months later I still gasp with wonder and question how I went for so long without them.
On March 16th, my third book, Cool Critters of the Ice Age was published. I stayed with my adopted parents for a couple of days celebrating it (we co-authored it), and working on another book.
I also spent a lot of the month hanging out with my best friend (Sarah) who was expecting her first child. I co-hosted a baby shower for her and enjoyed finding a unique gift for her: Each week during her third trimester I gave her one of my favorite books from my childhood so the baby would have a library right from the start.
The beginning of April was, once again, focused on writing. Not only did I decide to participate in my third year of the A to Z Challenge, but I also spent three days at a hotel so I could focus all of my energy on figuring out the rest of the plot for WLHYL and finish the book. I only had about 7,000 words left on the story when I went back home and I officially finished the first draft of WLHYL on Friday the 10th.
On the 17th our family traveled to Aruba where we spent the next three weeks. During that time I was emotionally and physically exhausted from finishing WLHYL and spent a lot of time resting and reading (I read 18 books in 19 days). It was a good time to have a break.
The first week of May was spent in Aruba at a business convention. We arrived home on the 8th and on the 11th I headed to my adopted parent’s house for a few days to help/hang out with filming for two DVDs. It was really cool and I got to man the clapboard which was a dream come true.
It was during May that I suddenly realized, much to my disappointment that, I haven’t felt well for a couple of weeks now. No, wait. I haven’t felt well since I finished WLHYL, no, even further back then that… When I finally realized that I’d never regained my health or energy since my trip to Africa I felt quite discouraged.
My writing world plodded along at a slow pace, but the rest of life picked up. One of the best parts of the spring/summer was Taco Tuesday. Our neighbors (who also happen to be our cousins) started it and we soon all jumped on board. Each Tuesday night about twenty of us would gather along with whatever dishes we wanted to bring to make up a taco bar and we would eat out under two big trees then play soccer afterward. I don’t know when I have ever enjoyed a weekly tradition more.
On the 28th Sarah gave birth to a beautifully darling little girl, Clara. At that time I had no clue the difference a new little one in my life would mean. I’ll forever look back on her entrance into my world as the highest of highlights in 2015.
The first week of June I spent a lot of time with Sarah and her sisters (who are some of my closest friends) who had come to visit with her after Clara was born. Then, I spent the weekend with my sisters and girl cousins, celebrating one last time together as my cousin prepared to tie the knot in July.
On Sunday the 7th I was thrilled to reach the milestone of having written at least 100 words on my WIP every single day for 1,000 days. We celebrated by going out for milkshakes.
There were several weddings I attended in June and on the way to an out-of-state one, I finally felt brave enough to begin reading through WLHYL for the first time. It was better than I had imagined.
Then my computer started fizzing out on me and I slacked somewhat with my blogging and writing as I spent a good portion of the month helping with baby Clara, attending my cousin’s out-of-state bachelorette party, working at a big event at my non-writing job, and meeting my newest nephew (who was born in April) for the first time.
On the 5th I left to spend a week at the Creation Museum. It was very rewarding to get to see Cool Critters of the Ice Age in the Museum bookstore for the first time.
I came back home and life was overwhelming. I had an event going on with my non-writing job and I sill wasn’t feeling well seven months into the year, so I decided to write a list of 500 things I was thankful for to help me regain perspective.
My cousin got married in a beautiful out-door ceremony on the 24th and on the 28th our family headed south. We spent the next several days with my oldest sister and her family, then went down to Florida to spend some time with my grandparents. I also spent July editing WLHYL.
A monumental conversation took place during July when I asked a fellow writer, who had written a difficult and moving non-fiction book, for some tips with working on WLHYL. Even though WLHYL isn’t true, the story is so close to my own story that it was extremely hard to write. The writer not only gave me some tips but also prayed for me which made a huge difference.
The first 11 days of August were spent visiting relatives in Florida. I also had a gloriously clear mind and more energy than I’d had for ages and was able to accomplish a ton on the second draft of WLHYL. I finally reached the point where I was ready to send WLHYL out to beta readers.
I also began making blankets for crisis pregnancy centers and praying for the darling little babies and their scared and precious mamas.
On the 12th it was the 222nd day of the year and I’d been gone for 111 days (nights, actually). Craziness. We arrived home on the 13th and a lot of my traveling for the year was over. When my enthusiasm for WLHYL quickly dissipated upon arrival back at our house and my tiredness increased, I finally put two and two together and realized that my lingering health issues were due to me being allergic to our house. We moved last year and am sadly sensitive to chemicals and new building materials. Cue Operation Stay Outside As Much As Possible and Leave Office Windows Open.
Our family also started a Monday night Bible Study during the summer and that soon became one of my favorite events each week.
I spent a lot of the beginning of September focusing on finishing my 23 before 23 challenge. Then, in the second week I was thrilled to get to go caving with my adopted parents and a group from the Creation Museum for the third year in a row. This is one of my favorite things to do.
As the summer drew to a close, I worked on just being instead of always doing. It’s a continuous lesson for me, but I like to imagine I’m a bit better than I used to be.
I spent the last half of September scrambling around trying to figure out how to write a synopsis for WLHYL and finishing up the forth draft. On the last day of the month was my birthday and I turned 23.
September was truly a monumental one for me as far as hanging out with people went. I had begun praying for the energy and desire to at least want to be with people a little bit, and that prayer was answered generously.
The month started out with our wonderful (sister-like) friend getting married and a good half a week of time was dedicated to helping set up for the wedding and take everything down afterward.
My main focus in October was editing WLHYL yet again. It was a growing experience for me and I learned a lot.
It was about half-way through the month when I suddenly remembered my year-long goals and realized I had left them at the wayside. It was an “ah-ha moment” for me, reminding me that no matter how good I have been at goals, unless I continually work on them and review them, they’re not going to help me one little bit. I knew it would be pointless to try and accomplish my year-long goals in less than three months, so I worked on my short-term goals and made a firm decision to not make goals in the future unless I was going to stick to them (as much as possible and profitable) and review them often.
I also began making it a goal to go to Wednesday night church each week. I haven’t regularly done that since I got Lyme disease, which was a long time ago. It hit me this year how much of my life I have to consciously control.
One fun part of October was learning how to start a fire with flint and steel and doing so quite often.
To reward myself for finishing the 4th draft of WLHYL in October I decided to do NaNoWriMo and turn November into an all-out writing and white-chocolate-eating month. I tackled a story I’ve wanted to write for several years now and finished the first draft at right about 50,000 words. It took me five days. (Including a 20,000 word day.) Not ready for my NaNo fun to be up, I started in on the second book in the series.
Sadly, between the writing and crocheting baby blankets for crisis pregnancy centers, I damaged my wrist and soon had to set aside typing when it became painful and I was concerned about causing permanent damage. I still had fun writing little bits at a time and consuming small (yet delicious!) amounts of white chocolate.
It was around this time that the Refugee crisis going on over in Europe caught my family’s attention and our hearts. At that time I had no clue the huge changes that would soon take place in our lives as we began praying for them and seeking for ways to help them.
After a great Michael Card concert on the 20th and a big project at work the following week, Thanksgiving arrived along with family time which is always a treat. Much to my dismay my health issues flared up worse than normal and I had a bit of a hard time dealing with everything. My wrist problems also continued persisting, although in the grand scheme of the world-wide problems they didn’t feel quite so big any more.
The first week of December was wonderful with a big project at my non-writing job that I thoroughly enjoyed. Then came our annual cousin’s Gingerbread House Party and right after that my sister and uncle went to Greece to help out with the refugees there.
I spent almost a week with my adopted parents and was thrilled to get to man one of the cameras at the Creation Museum (another one of those dreams come true for me).
It was around this time that I was reading about how my body is the Holy Spirit’s temple and how I’m supposed to take care of it. My health issues had been getting increasingly worse and so after thinking and praying about it I made the decision to eat only paleo for the next 100 or so days to help get my body back on track. (I did give myself Christmas off, although I made sure to be balanced.)
When I got back home Christmas preparations were in full swing and we commenced with celebrating Jesus’s birth and listening to a lot of stories from Greece after my sister arrived home on the 23rd.
My wrist problems continued, despite giving myself over a month-long break with croetching and buying a special computer keyboard that is supposed to help with the issue. All in all, though, I do feel as if it’s getting better and hope the healthy eating will somehow speed the healing process.
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Over all, twenty-fourteen was one of the most fantastic years of my life and twenty-fifteen entered with a bang then quickly petered off as health issues came into play.
Looking back on the year I have the tendency to feel like it was wasted. I spent far too much time feeling sick and/or tired. There were situations I didn’t handle well and friendships that seemed to fall apart. I didn’t always treat the people closest to me with love and at times put my own desires ahead of other’s needs. I spent many days feeling like an emotional wreck due to my health issues and cried enough to last me until twenty-twenty.
Overall, when I stop and think about it, although twenty-fifteen was not my ideal year as far as goals and health and accomplishing things go, it has been one of my best years ever as far as friendships and relationships are concerned. For one of the first times since I first got Lyme disease I continually really, really enjoyed being with people and actually chose to hang out, not because I knew I would feel guilty if I didn’t, but because I genuinely wanted to. And that’s huge for me. (I have of course had that happen during the last seven years, but mostly they were isolated events instead of happening one after another.) I still need a lot of time alone, no doubt about that, but I’m ok with that as long as I can appreciate the “people time” sprinkled in there as well.