I believe in a life full of celebration, in living life out loud. I believe that our days are numbered and the Lord intends for us to soak in all of His goodness while we can, so we can lavish that same joy and kindness on those around us by celebrating the big moments and all the little ones in between. Celebration is necessary, don't you think?
When I look back on 2014, I can easily say that there is an overwhelming theme of celebration and I love every second of it. It was intentional in part per weddings and parties, but it was also something that just seeped from our days, too, when we least expected it. It was a year where intentional became more than just a word, where marriage developed into more than just a dream, and life became something to be cherished and celebrated at every turn.
I've been blogging for 4 years on and off and have never done a "year in review" post, partially to avoid being trendy, but mainly because I was too scatterbrained to organize it. This year is different. This year deserves a look back, and I hope you'll take part in it, even for just a second.
First up--January was a quiet month, but it was full of planning and anticipation on my part--the holidays were over and our wedding was drawing closer and closer. I worked New Year's Eve and got to welcome the first baby of 2014. We celebrated with final wedding showers throughout January and our rehearsal dinner on the last night of the month. Andrew's sister got married and we partied with the whole Walker clan, all while counting down the days until our Big Day was finally here!
Next was sweet, sweet February, the month we got married, one of the best months of the year. Andrew and I became husband and wife on the 1st of February, a unseasonably warm day where everything was picture perfect. It was the wedding of my dreams and to top it off, I married the best man I know. We celebrated with our favorite people and loved every second of it. We spent a week in Jamaica, toasting to our marriage and living it up on gorgeous white sand beaches. Later in the month, we celebrated my sister and yet-to-be-born niece, Mary Elliott with a beautiful shower full of pretty presents and lots of love.
March and April were wonderful months for the most part, yet they seemed to pass by in a blur. March was consumed with the birth of my first niece, the most perfect and precious baby ever to be born! She turned our worlds upside down and we are all smitten with her! I traveled to New Orleans for a bachelorette party for Dannah, one of my best friends in the world! We had a blast celebrating her last days as a single lady. I turned 26 (without much celebration, womp womp) and celebrated Easter with my family. Andrew and I had 4 wedding showers to attend in April and loved getting to see friends and celebrate upcoming weddings! April ended with the annual Double Decker Festival in Oxford. April also tested our family--my grandmother had a serious heart attack after a routine procedure and was in the hospital for 2 weeks. It was the start of a long year of hospital stays for her.
Then came May and June. We traveled to St. Louis to see Andrew's sister and brother-in-law. We had a blast visiting with them and watching the Cardinals play! We had a date night to celebrate 3 months of marriage and 3 years of being together. Our back porch quickly became our favorite part of our home and we had quite a few parties out there through the summer, starting with a Memorial Day cookout! We celebrated lots of weddings this month, too--my uncle got married in Missouri, Andrew's best friend got married in Memphis, TN, and one of my dearest friends was married in Louisiana. We traveled a lot but loved every minute of it. Wedding season was in full swing!
July and August brought the hot summer months to Mississippi. July was a good one--this blog post went viral and brought in a ton of new readers, we started our blog Bible Study, and our wedding was featured in a local magazine. Andrew and I also traveled to the MS coast for a little weekend away with his mom and her boyfriend. We celebrated another wedding of some dear friends and watched Ole Miss kick off their season with a win in Atlanta! On a negative note, after having some vision loss, I found out I have psuedotumor cerebri and underwent numerous tests and lumbar punctures. I was extremely sick with a spinal headache for a week, but spent it laying horizontal on the couch at the beach. God taught me lots of lessons on patience and trust this month, and for that, I am thankful!
Football season was going strong once September hit. We spent many Saturdays in the Grove with friends and family, cheering our Rebs on to victory. We had our Sunday School over for a big cookout and I realized just how much I love having a house full of people! Another bachelorette party went down here in Oxford for my favorite blonde, Alex. We had such a great time being together--it was as if we were back in college! October was kicked off with our favorite couples in town for the Ole Miss/Bama game and we had the BEST weekend ever with a Rebel win! Mary Elliott kept getting cuter and cuter and we loved seeing her experience each season for the first time. Alex and Will's gorgeous, fun wedding was at the end of October and was the perfect way to finish out the month!
November was here before we knew it. Andrew's family came into town at the first of the month for the Ole Miss/Auburn game and we had a great time having a house full of family! I had some blog photos taken by my sweet friend Nicole and loved having girl time with her! Andrew and I took Christmas card pictures, Ole Miss beat State in the Egg Bowl, and we had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family. My grandparents were moved into an assisted living facility this month, and although it was hard, we knew it was the best for them. Mary Elliott spent time with her great-grandparents and they were all quite taken with each other. We finished out the month by pulling out all of our Christmas decor and enjoying a night on the Square for the Oxford Christmas Tree Lighting. It was a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season!
Sweet December. What a great month! Santa came early and brought me a new car--my first SUV! We traveled to Little Rock with some dear friends, Alex and Catherine, to see Garth Brooks and had a blast! We sent out Christmas cards, decorated our house in red and green, and enjoyed every little moment of Christmas cheer! God taught me a lot this month about priorities and putting Him first and it made all the difference. We danced the night away at another wedding, enjoyed lots of time with friends and family, and loved celebrating our first married Christmas. I took part in the She Reads Truth Advent study and savored this Christmas season more than I ever have before--this month grew me spiritually in ways I never expected. I learned a lot about what tradition means to me and my family and how as we grow older, traditions change, and that's okay--my grandmother is sick and we spent this Christmas season cherishing our time with her, because we never know what day will be our last. God is good, all the time.
Whew. Finished. It was a challenge to narrow all the good things down. I am so thankful for all the joy that 2014 brought--lots of weddings, lots of family, lots of friends. More celebrating than my little heart could handle--what a precious year. There were a lot of moments that didn't go as planned and a lot of situations that turned out to be quite different than we pictured, but it was all still good. As I get older, I'm learning slowly that my definition of "good" is fluid--it changes and flows as the situation changes--it takes on different faces in triumph and in sadness and even in anger, but there is always goodness to be found somewhere. And that's what 2014 was for me--finding the goodness in every moment and celebrating it regardless.
This quote by Shauna Niequist sums 2014 up for me--
“Celebration when your plan is working? Anyone can do that. But when you realize that the story of your life could be told a thousand different ways, that you could tell it over and over as a tragedy, but you choose to call it an epic, that's when you start to learn what celebration is. When what you see in front of you is so far outside of what you dreamed, but you have the belief, the boldness, the courage to call it beautiful instead of calling it wrong, that's celebration.” -S.Niqueist, Cold TangerinesI'm thankful for 2014 and the celebration it brought our lives. And now I'm ready to see what 2015 holds.