Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015 in Highlights

It really is true, the older you get, the more quickly time passes by.
Here we are; yet another year behind us. 
And so little to show for it on my blog, once again.

I plan to try harder, once again, to post more frequently and consistently this year. I've even cleaned up my desk and all around it, to make it a more practical, inviting spot to actually be more productive. Revisit some old bible studies (some I may never have completed). Write some more personal hand-written notes to those on my heart and mind (remember those?) And blog.

So, let me just kick it off by wrapping up my last year - or at least since my post about our trip back in February (seems like last week - sheesh).

Zip-lining at Banning Mills

Dad and I have been itching to go zip-lining again since our taste of it in the N Ga mountains several years ago. So, Mom got us each ticket to go zipping through Banning Mills, just on the other side of Atlanta.
We had a GORGEOUS day for it! The trees were still pretty bare, but we couldn't have asked for better weather.

We also had a good group of people to zip with. Quite a diverse crowd, but all grew rather close after having to huddle around a huge tree at each of our stopping points. Ha.
It was fun. We can't wait to go again.  :)

Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Mom has been wanting to take us up to one of her favorite getaway spots in North Carolina. I already love the Asheville area, so I suggested we just take off up there for our birthday weekend. It was just Mom, Dad and myself and it was yet another gorgeous weekend. The weather was absolutely perfect. 
On our way up, I insisted we had to at least drive through Billy Graham's Cove. They obliged and it was such a blessing!
The gentleman at the front gate directed us to their sweet little chapel for a tour. The lady at the chapel who greeted us said that a little family group had just started their tour, so we could join in with them or just wait for our own. We saw no reason not to join them, so we sat through the remainder of the video with them and then headed upstairs for the actual tour of the chapel.
I. love. that. chapel. There's just something about it. There's a holy presence throughout the entire property, but the chapel especially just resonates with it. So simple. So sweet. 
There is one event I have been wanting to attend at the Cove; Fernando Ortega, playing the piano, with the amazing backdrop out the window behind him. Uh! Glimpe of heaven itself right there.
Well, anyway, after sitting through a little history of the place from our guide, she warmly welcomed us to come up to the front and just take a look around from up there. As we began to get up, a young gentleman in the group we had joined up with, headed straight for the piano on the side. The guide sweetly said "Yes, feel free to knock about on the piano, too." He then sat down, got poised and proceded to pour out a medley of traditional hymns that left us all speechless. It was beautiful. And such a sweet gift. Here I'd been dying to hear Fernando in concert up there and instead, we were given our own private concert that was just as beautiful as Fernando could have done, yet in the sweet little chapel (as opposed to the training center)! Beautiful. I think Beth Moore calls those God Winks. So special.
We were also afforded the opportunity to walk through the Training Center as well. I had wondered if we'd be able to, as we weren't there for an event. Apparently, it's not normally open to the general public, but we happened to be there at a time when they didn't have an event, so were able to ramble freely. We got to sit on their amazing porch with that unmistaking view, walk through all the history that lines the walls on the bottom floor and even glance through the gift shop.

From there, we headed on up to Gideon Ridge Inn.
Mom had offered to get me my own room there, so I countered: For the same amount of money, if we just bunk together in one suite, we could stay an extra night!  :)  She was game and I'm so glad we did! We checked in that evening, settled in a little and then went to town for some dinner. We stayed in the Grandfather Suite, which was hard to picture from the pictures on their website, but it was a pretty cool room. I had a sofa bed and my own half bath. My favorite part was the European-looking little stoop that you access through the big picture window. There were a couple little bistro chairs out there and was just kinda cool to sit out there. Our hostess was sweet and reminded me of Rory Gilmore (which is funny, as her mom runs the Dragonfly Inn). 

The next day, we were able to just kick around and check the place out. The Inn is just down the road from the actual Blowing Rock. So, we went up there and looked around. Again - the weather could not have been any more beautiful. Such a nice place. With amazing views. We were also able to head to town and ramble there a bit. The highlight of that would probably have to be that I was carded for a wine tasting and t we were there celebrating my 41st birthday. Haha.

The next day, we came home by way of the Blue Ridge Parkway and it was just as picturesque as I'd always heard.

Simons Reunion / Tennessee

I'm so glad to I had the chance to join Mom and Dad again on a trip up to Tennessee to catch up with Uncle Curt and all his crew. They are a lively bunch!  :)  And it had been so long since we'd seen a lot of them (probably not since Grandma Mary's funeral in 2004). It was great fun. We got our own cabin, which we shared with Nancy and Dave, but we were just around the bend (or two) from where the rest of them were staying. They were both nice places. And both on the lake, though from theirs, you could actually see and access the water. Ha. I'm not sure who won the Lip Sync Contest, but it'd sure be hard to choose! Hahaha

Fervent Tour (Anthony Evans/Priscilla Shirer)

In August, the next Kendrick move finally made it to theaters! And it was so worth the wait! Everything those guys do is covered in prayer and blesses anyone prepared to receive it! This one was 'War Room' and its message is solely on prayer. The importance of it. The power of it. And how to utilize it. Such a powerful movie. (If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. It is now available on demand as well as DVD. If you happen to watch it on DVD, don't miss the bonus features! They're worth the price of admission just on their own!)  :)
Anyway - after only seeing 'War Room' on the big screen 3 times, I couldn't wait to catch Priscilla along with her brother Anthony Evans in Atlanta for their Fervent Tour! (I love Priscilla from several bible studies and knew she was a dynamic speaker. But, I had also come to love Anthony as well. He had performed on The Voice and I was hooked. He gets me through most work days. He is a very gifted singer/songwriter.
And they did not disappoint! It was a very powerful evening! Again - the primary focus was on prayer and fighting the right battles and obedience.
AND, since I went with Missy, self proclaimed stalker, we spung for the meet & greet tickets! Woo Hoo!
Not the most flattering picture of any of us, but they were super kind and incredibly gracious and it all just made for a great night!

Emery (football)

We also got to catch some of Emery's football games. I know his Daddy would love nothing more than for him to be a big bruiser out there, kicking butt and taking names later, but it warmed Aunt Jess's heart to see what a natural encourager he is. Slapping guys on the backs, excitedly telling them 'Great job!' - no matter whose team they were on. Just glad to be out there. It was fun to watch.
Though I will admit that Savannah and I may have zoned out a time or two...

1 year Meds-Free!

Okay. So, I don't guess I really have a picture for this, but it is pretty news worthy.
It was last November, when I went up to the Cove with Sally to see Lisa Harper, that I stopped taking my Mercaptapurine altogether. 
This was the drug that I was having to have to replace with something stronger because it just couldn't help keep my gut under control any longer. Having fought back Ulcerative Colitis for over 10 years, all the standard drugs had ceased to work any longer, leaving me looking toward using the much stronger biologics. As a last ditch effort, I drastically adjusted my diet to a cross between Specific Carb and Paleo and a year after deciding to go that route, with a little bit of rocky start, I was able to make it one year meds-free! Maintaining on diet alone. That's huge, considering that I wasn't even able to maintain while ON the meds.
Yay, me!  :)

Fall Family (Thanksgiving) Getaway / Cleveland, GA

This year, we decided to do our annual Fall Family Getaway over Thanksgiving and that worked really well. We stayed at a really nice cabin with a beautiful view of the mountains, just outside of Cleveland, GA. Emery couldn't get enough Pool and both he and Savannah had gotten quite good at it by the time we left. We were able to enjoy the hot tub a time or two and a good little hike up and down the road. It was so nice, Mom has already booked us again for next Thanksgiving. And, at least we know that if we lock ourselves out again, we can always just break in with a credit card!  :)

Tacky Holiday Sweater Contest 

I don't normally participate in dress-up days at work. But, I happened to stumble across a whole display of Christmas sweaters at Wal*Mart one day, so thought 'Why not!'  :)
I'm glad it wasn't 80 that day, like it ended up being on the actual day of Christmas this year.
We had a good turn-out and it was fun! Even  though I wasn't voted tackiest. (Leah, on the far left won that honor.)  ;)

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