Like 2014, 2015 was a year of ups a down, both for me personally and for our world in general. In the history books, 2015 will be a year remembered for more mass shootings than days, racism, and, well, Donald Trump. In Louisville, it will be marked by the biggest scandal to come out of any UofL sports program in the school’s prestigious history.
For me, 2015 was a year of successes and failures, celebration and grief. My first full year in my new job, I learned that trying doesn’t always mean succeeding. I was reminded of the pain of failure – or perceived failure. And, some mornings, I struggled to get out of bed.
But, to be fair to myself, I did make it out of bed every day, which is success in and of itself. Throughout the year, I grew as both a person and a minister, and I believe my church and I are better off for it. I learned that success does not always depend on the critiques or praises of others, but on how intently I listen and respond to the voice of God. And, I know, despite the hills and valleys, that my Creator is looking down on 2015 and saying, “well done.”
Every year, I like to look back on the preceding year and celebrate the joys that I want to remember. So, without further adieu, enjoy my 2015 Top Ten!
10. My First Birthday in Louisville – Over the past year, many people have asked me what it’s like to move back home. I always reply with a variety of answers, including: It’s weird being in the old town with new people; I love being able to explore my home as an adult; It’s great to be back around friends and family. Of all the days over the past year, my birthday was the embodiment of all the wonderful things that make my Louisville experience so amazing. I spent my birthday with new friends (who feel like family) at a new (to me) restaurant, and all the surrounding days with family and life-long friends. My first birthday as a Louisville resident in 10 years didn’t disappoint and I look forward to many more!
9. Music City Bowl – At the beginning of this football season, I doubted whether UofL would be able to come back from an 0-3 start to win 6 games and make it into a bowl game. After many years of teasing with projections of UofL playing in the Music City Bowl, I certainly never imagined the team would finish 2015 with a bowl game less than three hours from home! Honestly, I didn’t even pay attention on Selection Day, because I figured we would end up in North Carolina or Florida, but when I heard the ESPN theme play on my phone and saw that my boys were headed to Nashville, I knew I had to be there. And my first bowl game didn’t disappoint (with the exception of seeing Burgess ejected in the first six seconds of the game)! Sitting in the Nissan Stadium with 30,000+ of my dearest friends, I froze my tail off and lost my voice, but my Cards brought home the trophy, and that’s all that matters!
8. Writer’s Boot Camp – Last year, I had the distinct honor of joining the Young Clergy Women’s Project, a community of women ministers who support and encourage one another. In a conversation about self care, one woman suggested the Writer’s Boot Camp led by Margaret Feinberg and Jonathan Merritt as a meaningful experience of rejuvenation and growth. When she mentioned that the 2015 conference was taking place in Atlanta, I couldn’t miss it. The experience proved to be beyond what I imagined. I sat in the auditorium, hanging onto each word Margaret and Jonathon spoke, and developed skills to take my writing to the next level. I can’t wait to put what I learned into practice. But, most importantly, the Writer’s Boot Camp drew me closer to the God who gave me this gift and wants me to use it for the encouragement and edification of God’s children.
7. Started Cooking – For my very special Louisville birthday, a new friend gave me a cookbook she said had changed her life. Though I have not spent my life entirely absent from the kitchen, I had never cooked with all natural ingredients or spent so much time walking around the grocery store to find items such as tahini or gluten free rolled oats. The Oh She Glows cookbook revolutionized the way I make food, and I have been able to share this new gift with many friends and family members. I’m excited to see/eat all the new things I make in 2016!
6. Blessing of the Pets – The first time I heard of a Blessing of the Pets service at a local church in Atlanta, all I could think is how much I wanted Sookie to be blessed. I never imagined I would get to minister to a field full of children and their pets, speaking words of prayer and blessing over puppies, fish, old faithful pets, beanie babies, and ferrets at St. Francis School. Joy and love were palpable that day, and I truly felt like I was making a difference in the lives of those who wanted to honor the friends who have showered them with affection for many years. There are no words to describe the love of a pet, and fewer to articulate the joy of those who get to return the favor and lift their best friends up to the God who created them. (And yes, Sookie finally got her blessing, too!)
5. Met Luke Hancock – In April 2013, a homesick 25-year-old sat 12 rows back in the Georgia Dome to watch her favorite team play in the NCAA Final Four. After half-time, the young girl practically needed a paper bag to handle the anxiety she felt as the University of Louisville Cardinals maintained a 12 point deficit against the Wichita State WuShocks (and what the heck is a WuShock anyway?). Trying to stay positive, she couldn’t understand how the team would come back from this – especially with Wichita State’s best player on fire. Until a young man name Luke came off the bench, made four 3’s in a row, and pulled the Cards through to a victory that eventually led them to become National Champions. On a beautiful day in June, her first at the tracks of Churchill Downs, the now 28-year-old girl met her basketball hero and MVP of 2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament – Luke Hancock. Oh – and fellow National Champ, Mike Marra, totally photo bombed our picture. Definitely a day for the books.
4. Luna – On a rainy day in October, I drove to Atlanta to meet a sweet dog who had been mistreated and needed someone to love her dearly. This goofy little pup rode in the car with me for 6.5 hours to meet Sookie and live with us on trial. Though my friends knew differently, I truly did not think I had room in my life (or my heart) for another pup. Being the little weasel she is, Luna quickly wormed her way into my heart (though she’s still working on Sookie). Her sweet smile and erratic bouncing around the house melts me daily, and I can’t imagine our lives without her!
3. Meredith’s Wedding – Early in the year, my family and I traveled to Kansas City to celebrate a most special day in the life of my sister. For months, we planned and prepped. Meredith and I tried on dresses and g-chatted daily about ideas and shoes, hair styles and bachelorette parties. When the day came, everything went off without a hitch. Meredith looked beautiful, and family and friends admired #teamZachadith with love. And, as we all know, the best part – I got a new brother!
2. Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon – Before each New Year, I sit down with pen and paper to write my New Year’s Resolutions. Even though I start the year with vigor and motivation, I rarely complete all (or any) of my resolutions. Nearly every year for the past five years, “set a PR in a half marathon” sat firmly at the top of my New Year’s Resolution list. And each year passed without a PR (personal record). But this year was different. After months of preparation, encouragement from friends, and joining a running group, I made it through my training with few missed runs, and crossed the rainy finish line in tears as I saw a number on the clock I had never seen before! What a way to ring in my first full year back home!
1. Jimmy Fallon – People. I saw The Tonight Show. I met Jimmy Fallon. I spoke to Jimmy Fallon. He shook my hand. There are no words. A dream come true. (And no pictures, because no cameras allowed in Studio 6B in Rockefeller Center in the heart of New York City.)
Great list Emily Holladay! You’re an inspiration. ☺