And so we say goodbye to another year. 2009 was a good one, one of the most blessed ever. Some highlights and achievements:
- The year of the Yellow House! I've never lived with other members before and didn't realize what a huge blessing I was missing out on. Amy, Liz, and I moved into the Yellow House in January and officially moved out yesterday. Not only was it a beautiful building, but it truly felt like a home. There was always a friendly ear to listen and there were always people coming over to visit. Unlike any place I've lived since I left home, I could truly feel the Spirit there. Thank you, girls, for blessing my life immeasurably.
- In March, I was able to see my bestie! Even though Rachel ran off to Israel (I'll forgive you eventually, love), she came back to visit and it was WONDERFUL! Miss you, Rach.
- The year of weddings. We watched so many of our loved ones joined for time and eternity. We're so happy for all of you (and thanks for all the yummy cake!)
- My baby brother graduated from high school! In June, A.J. finished his senior year at Palo Alto High in Carlsbad, Cali. My grandparents, uncle, and I all came in for the celebration. I'm so proud of him for surviving high school and even prouder that he's now a freshman at BYU.
- As sad as it is to see of dear friends, we joyfully sent off many missionaries this year to do the Lord's work across the States. Interestingly enough, no one got called outside the States. David, Jenna and Michelle, we are so proud of the great work that you're doing and miss you so much!
- Andrew and I successfully launched Blink Twice Photography! We shot our first wedding together in May and have already lost count of how many projects we've worked on together. We make a great team (if I do say so myself) and I look forward to many, many more weddings together.
- For the first year EVER I kept one of my New Year's Resolutions - I lost weight! About this time last year, I remember hating to see pictures of myself. I kept thinking "Ugh, I can't believe I look like that." I didn't want to dodge out of photos anymore. I've been working out sporadically over the past few years, but this year I buckled down and spent 4-6 hours a week sweating on the cardio machines at the gym. Jump started by the Capital Ward's "No Sugar June," I tried swapping out water for soda and fruits, yogurt, and string cheese for sugary, carby snacks. In total, I've lost a little over 15 pounds (though I'm carrying a gross bit of Holiday weight now - ew). It took a long time, but I'm hoping that this means it'll stay off. I'm not always good, I still love chips and queso, a good cupcake and pasta. But if I eat it, I know I'll be working it off double at the gym the next day. My goal for next year? Another 10-15 pounds. Wish me luck, and feel free to join me.
- Up 'til this year, I think I can count the number of times I've been to the temple on two hands. Very sad, I know. This year, I went every single month. Didn't miss one. Went sometimes three times in one month. And ya know what? Everything you've ever heard about regular temple attendence is true. You come out feeling less touched by the world. You refocus on the things in life that are truly important, on storing blessings in heaven, and recommit yourself to following the commandments with exactness. The joy, peace and happiness that comes from regular temple attendence has made this year truly blessed.
And that's this year! And oh, yeah, we got married!
I didn't ever think I'd get married in the temple. For the longest time, it wasn't something that was important to me. I don't know how I could have been so blind. A worthy temple marriage is the best thing that has ever happened in my life. I can't describe the joy of having that tie for eternity and knowing that this isn't just a partnership between us, but that the Lord will be a part of our union to strengthen and aid us when we stumble.
Every step of the way, we were blessed. In the end, it was the wedding of my dreams - absolutely beautiful, surrounded by laughter and love. And I have to brag here a little bit - I managed to come in UNDER budget, and Hans and I were able to pay for the entire thing ourselves. By working overtime, weekends, holidays, and shooting a few weddings, we were able to do the whole thing without going into any real debt (I think I put Hans' suit on my Banana Republic credit card, but that was pretty much it!) We are so grateful to our Heavenly Father for how he helped everything to fall into place.
Something else I learned this year, and am continuing to learn, is that the Lord is in control. I'm such a control freak that I always want to micromanage each step. But I can't do that. He has a plan for me. It's more beautiful and perfect than anything I could plan for myself. It's scary to give up control and trust, but every time I do, things work out. I feel peace. This year has really helped me gain a testimony of this and I hope to continue growing that testimony with more practice.
Friends, we hope that you all can look back at the past year and recognize the great blessings in your life is well. Be well.