Well, everyone, the new year is almost here! 2015 is coming to a close, and it has certainly been a year to remember. I thought it would be fitting to share with you a few highlights from this past year that may not have made it into my posts here at “Cassie Contemplates.” I hope you will get a taste of the blessings God has sent my way this past year.
In February, I learned quite a bit about myself thanks to some unexpected connections with friends. I had the opportunity to attend a women’s Valentine tea at my church, and I heard from a speaker who altered my perspective on negative emotions that I needed to relinquish. It was a meaningful Valentine’s Day, for later in the evening I hosted a girls’ night at my home. We enjoyed yummy treats, engaged in memorable conversation, and colored! Yes, we colored! I never thought that participating in something so simple could bring such joy and reward. I’m already looking forward to the next coloring party.
Throughout March and April, I interacted with the Board of Directors for the camp I directed. We selected our 2015 campers and interviewed the staff. Shortly after Memorial Day weekend, we had selected those who would participate in our program for the summer.
In June, I spent a weekend with dear friends at an outdoor music festival. We enjoyed incredible music, bonded through a hotel stay (four girls in one room), tried some pretty awesome food, and even endured a little rain. It was a weekend to remember.
The month of June concluded with some medical appointments, a visit from my mother, working through the deadlines for camp, and then leading a staff training. One of the highlights was helping to put together our annual Outdoor Worship event at the church. Unfortunately, we were rained out for the second year in a row, but Vanessa, Jadyn, Tyler and I further explored our musical chemistry as we pieced together our set list for the service.
In July, my parents and I spent almost a week together at the house. We attended a neighborhood block party and went shopping. The only downer was another medical appointment, but we were pleased with the results and options that might be available on the horizon. I also enjoyed having coffee with a dear friend who came home for a few days from Japan.
Camp was held late in July, and as usual, the event did not disappoint. For the first time in our camp’s history, we engaged the staff in a second full training day in downtown Madison. Please know that I am not exaggerating when I say that the staff traveled around the city in 90+ degree temperatures. The heat index made it feel more like 100 degrees. But our training was effective and we felt prepared to welcome our campers the next day. I was proud of our staff; even though we were all exhausted, hot, and many of us with blisters on our feet, I never heard one complaint. We were able to end our training day by attending our camp’s 15-year reunion at a local park where we met up with past staff and campers.
The week at camp continued with only minor bumps along the way. The students were great, and our staff were pretty amazing as well. But as the week moved forward, I was gripped with an unexpected realization. Somehow, I had the sense that this would be my last week directing the camp. As early as January, I had experienced some misgivings about continuing, but as August began, I was even more sure that I was nearing the end. After a great deal of prayer and tears, I composed my letter of resignation and sent it to the board. After almost six years of leadership, I had completed my service to camp.
August into early September was a difficult time for me. I felt I was ready to let go of camp, but yet, I knew that I would miss the staff and students more than anything. Camp had barely ended for the summer when I traveled to Michigan to attend a conference on disability. At the conclusion of the conference, I enjoyed a few days with friends a few hours from the conference site. I had planned to spend a few days in quiet reflection as I continued to process my resignation, but things got crazy. I had only been at my friends’ home for twenty-four hours when we got the call that changed everything. Dear friends from my home town had just learned that the adopted baby they had been expecting had arrived, and they were traveling to Michigan to meet her. In a two-day time span, we readied the house for the new parents and their baby girl. The night before my flight home, they arrived at the house, and I felt so blessed to be a part of that memorable night. It was such a joy to see a family complete after so much prayer and working through the legal process.
After I got home from Michigan, I knew I needed a distraction, and as my birthday neared, I got the best distraction ever. A good friend and I were swapping stories, and I was reminded that her husband and I shared the same birthday. We decided we needed to do something special, and we could think of nothing better than making a long-held dream come true. So we set our sights on Green Bay Packer tickets, and before the month was up, we managed to snap up four seats. On the day of the game, my sister met us at my home, and we traveled to Green Bay. It was certainly a night to remember! We didn’t get home until 4:00 a.m., but it was all worth it. I wouldn’t have traded my wet clothes and fatigue for anything. Nothing can top a Green Bay Packer game day birthday!
In November, I provided music for an event hosted by our local home health and hospice agency. Between 2008 and 2012, I volunteered for ADORAY, and I considered it an honor to give back at their 20th anniversary celebration. In December, it was time for Hazelnut Tree Christmas again. Once more, I asked Vanessa to sing with me, and we had a great time. Our crowd was a bit smaller than normal, but we sang and shared our stories nonetheless.
As 2015 draws to a close, I am grateful for everything I have experienced this year. It is hard to know what will be on the horizon in 2016, but I am praying for increased opportunities to share my gifts through music, writing, or however else God might call me to serve Him. Until then, I am saying farewell to 2015 and looking ahead to tomorrow and beyond.