In just a few days another year will come to an end. As I get older I feel like the years fly by quicker and quicker. 2016 has been quite the year for the Carlson's. It was full of adventures, celebrations, travel and some major milestones. As my kids get older I feel that life becomes even more fun and exciting. I love seeing them begin new chapters of their lives and move into adulthood.
We started the year helping Christian begin a new chapter in pursuing his degree in ministry at Cincinnati Christian University. He received an athletic scholarship to be part of their first ever football program.
Not long after moving Christian into the dorms, Noah signed his letter of intent to attend CCU as well. I loved that they chose to attend the same school and play on the same football team together.
In February, Rich was able to reconnect with his daughter Amanda. We flew her out to meet the family and to begin the rebuilding of her relationship with her Dad. She was able to visit again in July and October.
Spring Break gave us the opportunity to travel to Arizona. We had a great time catching up with our baseball sons at Spring Training and visiting the Grand Canyon for the first time.
We were a Dragon's host home for a 4rd year. We welcomed four sons into our family. Some were only with us for a short time. This year we had sons from the DR, Venezuela and Cuba. Rich continued as the Latino Chaplain and Noah worked the season as a bat boy.
Tyler did something that shocked us all!! He joined the middle school track team. He has hated running his whole life. We weren't sure if he would like it or even stick with it. He loved it and he was really fast!!
I joined a non-profit group that escorts children to and from the US for medical treatments. My first assignment was escorting a teenage girl home to Honduras. Then in October, I escorted a toddler to Paris. I was able to overnight in Paris and do a little sightseeing.
In May, Noah graduated from high school and I took him to Daytona Beach for a couple days to celebrate.
June brought a very special celebration for our family. It was Madison's 15th Birthday and that meant it was finally time for her Quinceanera. She had been planning and preparing for this day since she was 5. We had a fantastic time celebrating with everyone.
One of the perks of my job with the airlines is free flight benefits. So Madison's BIG gift was a trip to Puerto Rico with her Dad. They were upgraded to first class on the trip home.
At the end of July, Noah moved into the dorms for his first year of college. Christian completed his summer internship at Colonial Baptist Church and returned to CCU for his 3rd year of college.
In August, the busy football season began. This year was one of our busiest. Rich was the head coach for Tyler's middle school team. They finished the season 6 - 2. Madison was a JV Cheerleader. She was recovering from a stress fracture in her pelvis so she wasn't able to participate in the 3 competitions. Christian and Noah both played for the first football team ever at CCU. It was a tough first season without a win.
In early October, I had a fun girl's getaway with my mom and my aunt. We took a trip down to Tybee Island. While we were there we spent a day sightseeing in Savannah and enjoyed a yummy lunch at Paula Deen's restaurant. Even though our trip was cut short by a day due to Hurricane Matthew we had a great time together.
November brought Tyler's 14th birthday, our 21st wedding anniversary and Thanksgiving. Tyler had never had a big birthday party so we rented a bounce house, created a fun scavenger hunt, ordered lots of pizza and cleaned out the garage.
2016 was rough for Madison's health. In April she injured her pelvis during cheerleading tryouts. We thought it was a pulled groin muscle so she started physical therapy. After 3 months of therapy with no improvement, an MRI was done and it showed she actually had a stress fracture in her pelvis. It took until late November to heal completely. Then she got sick the week of Thanksgiving and it took 4 doctor's visits, a minor surgery and 5 days in the hospital to get well. She had a severe infection behind her tonsils that was orginally diagnosed as the flu then strep then tonsillitis.
Rich and I went to New York in December for a mini anniversary getaway. NYC at Christmas was on my bucket list. We were only there for a day and a half but we covered a lot of ground.
December was also a BIG month for Christian. He and his girlfriend Nichole got engaged. Madison and I were able to be there for the surprise proposal secretly taking pictures. The Big day will be in 2018.
When I take the time to look back over the year I realize just how much we packed into 2016. And this was just our personal lives. Rich had a lot of growth and new opportunities and partnerships for Power of 3 Ministries as well. (That will be a separate post.)
Even though 2016 was by far an amazing year, it was also at times a challenging year. We had to say goodbye to FBC Sports and Rich finished his last year as Rec Director for Kid's Kamp. My work schedule prevented me from serving at Kid's Kamp. It also kept us home for Thanksgiving instead of in Georgia with the rest of my family. Madison dealt with lots of mean girls and frenemies throughout last school year. Thankfully since the start of the new school year in August, those issues have greatly reduced. Christian's car died and he dealt with financial aid/transcript issues that were going to prevent him from playing football this year. He was able to get everything cleared up just in time for the first game of the season.
We've had to navigate spiritual battles this year as well. It's difficult to help teenagers and young adults live out their faith and make it their own. For now that means a change in youth group and continued prayer that they will stay open to God's voice.
Through the ups and downs of this year, we have done life together. We have laughed and argued and loved and enjoyed so many moments. I can't wait to see what 2017 brings for our family.
So from our family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! I pray that you will shine His light wherever you may go. I leave you with the Prayer of Peace by St. Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, a VBS crafter, a coupon clipper, a thrift store shopper, a football fan, a cook, a student of the Bible and an avid reader.