This past year has been wonderfully crazy. It began with an impromptu and completely spontaneous family vacation to Gatlinburg for 12 days. It ended with a vision crisis episode. Everything between the two was the journey.
I officially and legally changed my name to Carter in honor of my Daddy. I started and completed foster parenting training with the Department of Children’s Services. I permanently left Union University after years of failed attempts, just weeks away from a Bachelor’s degree. I found more kids to invest in. I went parasailing. I launched my own business. I bought my first house and moved back to Fairview. I switched to Samsung and then back to Apple. I made a whole lot of new friends and went deeper into authentic community. I worked on my books. I turned 25 years old.
Huge things happened in the world this year too. Terrorism took over every media company. Famous people like B.B. King died. Bruce Jenner decided to be Cailtlyn instead. The Supreme Court made gay marriage legal across the country. Fast & Furious 7 was released and, amazingly, the creators were able to include the late Paul Walker in the movie by using his brother’s body and a whole lot of technology. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released and people who have never cared for the most incredible saga ever are suddenly fanatics. Apple finally made a watch. Natural disasters struck and destroyed all over the world. China decided couples can now have two children instead of just one, as it has stood since the 1970s. Donald Trump announced his run for president of the United States.
Every year, I choose one word to serve as a theme for the whole year. I’ve been doing it for about 10 years now and, every single year, it works out very well. The word for 2015 was service. I began serving at Cross Point at the end of last December and spent at least 400 hours there this year – including as a small group leader with #CPkids, on the guest experience team for @CPStudents and as an auditorium host for our Sunday motning Guest Experience team. I served on Tres Dias weekends, including running media for the very first Northwest Arkansas weekend. I served at the Bridge Ministry for the very first time. I volunteered with the National Exchange Club and Operation Troop Aid. My world became all about serving….and it was AMAZING!
My life changed dramatically in June though. I can blame part of that on me officially turning a quarter of a century old. I can credit the rest of it to a random afternoon where I volunteered to go and help my church’s kids’ team prepare for our kids’ summer camp experience. It was the first step in a journey of service outside of Sunday mornings and, more importantly, into finding community with some of the most awesome people on the planet (my church staff). Within just a few weeks, this huge and ominous church where I thought everything was perfect and I would never really fit in or get on the inside of became just “the church” and all the highly esteemed people I didn’t even know who ran the place became just “my friends.”
I learned to absolutely love the simplest of tasks like organizing markers, rolling shirts and throwing away paper. I do it every single week with honor because I realize that doing the little things allows “my friends” to do more bigger things. I realize that making every classroom a safe and engaging place makes a real difference for every volunteer, kid and family on Sunday morning.
I have learned that showing up consistently, randomly and mentally in the hearts and lives of my few every single week makes a difference in their lives and mine too. I have built relationships with kids and families that are out of this world.
The word for 2016 is REDEMPTION, where I get to take advantage of God’s limitless grace and turn my mess into a message.