I thought I had this incredibly original idea to write down the highlights of the last 10 years here on my blog. But apparently, that's the "thing to do" now, which makes me kind of not want to do it.
However, I still thought it might be fun to take a walk down memory lane since the last decade has probably been one of the more life-changing decades I'll have in my life. Since I don't have this, I won't be including pictures, but that's probably a good thing or this post would be pages long. Instead, I'll try to keep it fairly concise (not one of my greatest gifts, obviously).
* Winter Term my Senior year at Elon- rehearsed all day ever day for A Chorus Line. One of my favorite college memories by far.
* Student teaching at Western Alamance High School. I taught 10th grade English & loved it, but knew it wasn't my calling, so I enjoyed it for what it was.
* Graduated from Elon with a B.A. in English with a secondary education concentration.
* Moved to Richmond where I started working First Baptist Richmond as the intern with youth. I learned so much about ministry at this church. Mission trip that summer to Chicago
* Traveled to London in August to visit one of my best friends who had moved there after graduation.
* Began seminary at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond (BTSR). Hated it.
* Decided that the spring semester would be my last one at BTSR & applied to Duke & Princeton seminaries. Was accepted to both, but Princeton gave me a tuition grant. Decision made.
* Mission trip with FBC Richmond to Maine that summer
* Lots of weekends spent on the Outer Banks with two friends who were performing in The Lost Colony that summer.
* Moved up to Princeton on September 10, 2001. My dad & I had plans to travel into NYC the following morning. Obviously we didn't make it there.
* Fall semester at Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) was incredible. Met one of my very favorite people in the world- a sister in so many ways. Met another favorite friend while visiting a mutual friend in the hospital
* Was accepted into the International Field Education program for the summer. I initially applied for a ministry position in Trinidad/Tobago, but at my interview I was asked, "How would you feel about going to Africa?" Before I knew what I was saying I responded that it sounded wonderful & I'd love to go to Africa. God gave me those words because I had never thought about going to Africa before that moment.
* I spent the most difficult and most wonderful summer in Machakos, Kenya. I taught Christian Education at Machakos Boys School (10th grade equivalent) and 3 classes at Machakos Baptist Primary School. I also preached on Sundays & led several weekly prayer meetings at Machakos Baptist Church. I have absolutely never had to rely on God so intensely as I did that summer. God rocked me to the core & taught me a reliance and faith in God that I can barely describe. I'm going to blog about this trip soon because once I get started it's hard for me to stop talking about it.
* The day before I flew home from Africa I said to my friend Erica who went with me, "I'm really starting to think God wants me to be a single woman throughout my life, and maybe after graduation I'll move to New York City to do ministry there."
* One week after I returned from Africa I saw an old friend named Stephen Willis & we knew from that moment on that God had brought us together.
* I returned to Princeton for my last year in seminary and started a long-distance relationship with Stephen.
* Graduated from PTS with an M.A. in Christian Education.
* Was ordained in June at my home church- Wake Forest Baptist in Wake Forest, NC
* Moved to Knoxville, Tennessee to serve as Associate Minister at West Hills Baptist Church
* Stephen moved to Knoxville later that summer and jumped in to being a "pastor's wife" with both feet
* We were engaged at the end of December
* Went on a fun January vacation to Key West with Stephen's family. I am in love with that town.
* We were married in May & went on a fabulous honeymooon cruise to the Southern Caribbean.
* We jumped off a 50 ft. cliff in Grenada- a highlight of my life
* Christi, one of my youth from Richmond served as my intern that summer. She lived with us during our first 3 months of marriage!
* I was asked to serve on the Passport Advisory Committee- an organization that I love & believe in wholeheartedly. Here I met some great friends began a more intense relationship with this wonderful ministry.
* Continued to serve at West Hills & shook things up there a bit. God really moved in me during that time, and God moved in that church as well.
* Strengthened our friendships with folks in Knoxville and we all grew together in the Lord through Bible studies together & the Young Adult Sunday School class I taught.
* My incredible friend Laurie toured the country in Smokey Joe's Cafe. I was her groupie and saw her in a ridiculous number of shows & loved every second of it.
* Stephen & I celebrated our first anniversary at the Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, Florida (near Miami)- one of the best hotel pools I've been to.
* Mission trip to NYC through YSOP- one of the best, most powerful mission trips I've ever been on. Learned so much about poverty in America.
* Celebrated Stephen's 30th Birthday with a surprise Caribbean cruise with two of our best sets of friends. He was completely surprised and we had an incredible time together.
* We left Knoxville for me to become the Youth Minister at Ardmore Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, NC
* We were able to actually use our season tickets to WFU basketball games
* Purchased our first home
* Mission Trip to Gulfport, Mississippi post-Katrina
* Enjoyed a winning season with WFU football including a trip to the ACC Championship in Jacksonville & a New Year's trip to the Orange Bowl in Miami.
* Took youth on mission trip to Guatemala. God used this trip to show some privileged youth how to really care for those we are called to serve.
* Took several youth on a Passport trip to Kenya. Watched their lives be transformed over 2 weeks of melding their lives with Kenyan teenagers & working side by side in the slums of Nairobi. We all came home changed. Africa will do that to you.
* I left Ardmore in February under some very painful circumstances. I was not the right "fit" for that place, and it was not the right fit for me.
* Not working in a church afforded me the opportunity to audition for a musical at our community theatre. I landed an incredible role & made even more incredible friends. I believe God gifted me with that creative outlet at just the right season in my life.
* I took on a long-term sub position teaching language arts to at-risk middle school kids at a local school. I discovered that I aboslutely loved it.
* In celebration of my 30th birthday, Stephen and I took an amazing trip to Long Island, Bahamas right after school ended, then went on several beach trips that summer.
* My home church asked me to be the "spiritual guide" for the youth mission trip to rural Alabama. It was a gift to me & so much fun to work with a youth group whose members were born when I was in the youth group!
* In the fall I went back to the same middle school to teach language arts full time. It was incredibly challenging, but it felt like I was "practicing what I preached".
* I began announcing my pregnancy and spent the better portion of 2009 being pregnant.
* I performed in another musical at the Little Theatre- I Love You. You're Perfect. Now Change.
* I celebrated a fabulous 5th Anniversary with Stephen in May.
* I gave birth to a sweet little boy, Berkley in August.
And here we are. I am thrilled to see all that the next decade brings. I am excited to see what God has in store for me.