January: Brought in the new year celebrating my Dad's 50th birthday with friends and family. Returned to Charleston, South Carolina for another 6 months of AmeriCorps! :) We journeyed to Fort Myers, Florida to work with Habitat for Humanity. I celebrated my 24th birthday there...spending time at the beach and an Italian restaurant where there was 9 other people celebrating their birthday's too!
Dad's Birthday Present...a Harley. :)
February: I was in Biloxi, Mississippi working with the Lutheran Episcopal Disaster Response. I worked as a case worker helping people who had lost so much because of Hurricane Katrina (there was a 30 ft storm surge that completely wiped out everything about a mile inland). I lived in a big circus tent with 35 bunk beds and pallet flooring. Also, I shared a bathroom (10 port-a-johns and 10 portable showers) with about 300 people). I visited New Orleans for the first time, celebrating Mardi Gras with my teammates and other NCCC corps members. Bourbon Street can be fun. I also lost my very amazing and wonderful Grandmother, Rosemary Ann Stock. She lives on in all our hearts.
My Grandma kicked butt! How many grandmothers do you know that will shoot hand guns with their grandkids off her sons porch? So much fun! She was amazing.
March: Off to Louisiana. Construction work with the United Way. I never thought I would come to love a group of people so much, but Cajuns rock! Food, music, Cook-Offs, small towns...they are AWESOME!!! Lived on an "experimental" farm with cows on three out of four sides. I don't think I've read that many books in that short a time since college. Awesome.
April: A visit to Grandpa on our way back to Charleston via Gulf Breeze. Good times. Spring Break in Charleston...the worst sunburn of my life (all Theresa's fault). A Week long project as a trail crew working on the Palmetto Trail. 8 days. No showers. Abandoned warehouse. sleeping bags. SWAMP! Stuck in the mud...red clay mud!
May: Easter Seals, Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. An amazing project working with incredible people. The stories from this project are seriously endless. A major highlight was going to the Grand Ole Opry. I'm such a country fan and this was a huge event for me. I saw two of my favorite singers live: Travis Tritt (It's a Great Day to be Alive) and Martina McBride. The show was a tribute to Ray Charles. Ah-mazing. :)Living conditions? A camp on a peninsula in the middle of God's beautiful creation.
The team at Chili's...our last night out at Easter Seals.
June: The end of our project in Mt. Juliet and the end of AmeriCorps. Saying goodbye to my team and other corps members that I met was difficult--emotionally and physically. Physically? Oh yeah, that's because my knee got caught between two vans when we were parallel parking the 15P in downtown Chucktown for Trivia night. Major bummer! My amazing mother and brother flew out for graduation and to help me get my "booty" back to Cali. Fun times!
In case you're wondering, the moose head has come to be our symbol...no clue why.
July: I began my new job with YOUNG LIFE! I moved back to Riverside and I live with an incredible woman named Ardie. She rocks! I have a pretty cool boss and an incredible job. A week after I started, I went to camp with 5 high schoolers from Riverside. Not too shabby. July also afforded (during my two week transition) a road trip up to Nor Cal to visit my good friend Joe and to see my family. Along for the ride, the infamous Punk, Brandon. :) In case anyone's wondering, I drive like the old woman I'm about to become (yikes).
August: My best friend's wedding. Doesn't get much better than that! :) Plus, my Mom celebrated her 50th birthday with a beach bash and dinner at Duanne's (with our favorite waiter Bogart. love him!) and my parent's celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary. Still going strong. Can you believe they only knew each other 8 months the day they wed? Crazy times. What's even crazier is that the same is true of my Dad's parents...anyone else see a pattern here? YIKES!
September: The first big "banquet" for Young Life that I was officially involved with...I ended up wearing a blond wig with a beach towel stuffed into my shorts to become part of the incredible du-o "Flo and Marge." Somehow I ended up in the pool, but I suppose it was worth the $300. The other BIG event first for me: being present for the birth of Jonah Bradford McClain, my little friend. I had the privilege of being in the room for the whole she-bang.
My little friend is here!
October: Wow. This month seems like ages ago. I did a little bit of this, a little bit of that. We started our leadership training and went to the YL Fall Leadership Retreat down at Oakbridge. I started doing Contact Work at King high school, working with the Drama program. Fun!
November: Took a trip up to Portland. So nice up there and the people aren't bad either! :) Spent Thanksgiving down in San Clemente with the parents and the brother. My Dad, Mom and I ran in the Dana Point Turkey Trot. My first 10K and definitely not my last! It was awesome! My friend Susan came out from Texas and we saw her brother in APU's production of Pride and Prejudice. Good times hanging out with the old APU crew.
December: Ah, the end of the year...last month was CRAZY!!!! Lots going on with work and getting ready to celebrate Christmas! Jesus, oh, what a wonderful child! My Grandfather came out from Florida to stay with us for a couple of weeks. It's always awesome seeing him--he's quite the character (explains my father and me a bit more). Also, Mike and Becca and their two cutie pie girls came down for a visit and we had a blast with them, as always.
Overall, it was quite a year. I've never felt so blessed. God truly is amazing. He is everywhere.