2015 started out like any other year ought to:
With a selfie (and a photobomb). Kaitlin and I watched the peach as it dropped with some friends, and snapped a photo when the new year came. 2015 began, and proved to be a year of adventure, change, and blessings.
Two days later, on January 3rd, I visited my dad on his birthday. 2015 would be my first full year without him, and though he’d been gone for nearly a year at the time, I hadn’t really even really begun grieving. I have trouble allowing myself to do that, and though I made it a new years resolution to do so, it never really happened. It’ll remain a goal of mine for 2016.
Soon afterwards, I marked an item off my bucket list: finally beating “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time”. That game is quite easily the greatest video game in its genre of all time, perhaps second only to “A Link to the Past.” Anyway, that’s enough geek for one post.
Our family soon grew by a few hands when I (with the help and generosity of our friends at Cobblestone Crossing School of Horsemanship) was able to give Kaitlin a baby horse for Valentine’s Day. The two had quite an amazing bond, and raising a baby had always been a dream of Kaitlin’s. It’s amazing to see how far they have come in their relationship since then!
The next day, she had her first lesson with him. We named him Koda Bear.
Then, we set off for Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for our Valentine’s Day retreat! Nothing beats a dinner at the Old Mill and a few days to just relax and have fun together.
While I was there, I gave someone a fake parking ticket. They deserved it. To see more of my parking ticket victims, search the tag #parkingticketsfromzack on Instagram.
It also snowed in February, and we made the best snowman in our history of snowman making together. It doesn’t snow often in Rome, GA, but you can tell it wasn’t our first rodeo.
Meanwhile, as a middle school teacher, I discovered how fun writing tests could be. Also, I learned that middle school kids nowadays don’t know who Keanu Reeves is. They better watch out, though. That guy knows kung-fu.
In March, I received my acceptance letter from Shorter University’s School of Nursing. I talked a whole lot more about my journey to making nursing my career in a blog post titled “Finding God’s Will“. Needless to say, this marked a turning point in my life.
We found this baby squirrel outside, after a neighborhood cat killed its mother. We nursed it back to help and was able to take it to a friend who rehabilitated it! As far as we know, it was released back into the wild a healthy squirrel.
On April 21st, we celebrated 7 years of being a couple! It’s amazing when I think about being together that long. That’s over a fourth of our lifetime spent on this God-written love journey. I’m a lucky man.
Four days later, my brother-in-law married his best friend (who happens to be the sister of one of my fraternity brothers from college. Small world!), and we (Kaitlin and I) got to be apart of the ceremony.
Immediately afterwards, I broke my wrist in a fall at the church. Which was a big wake-up call for me, honestly. It was my second fracture in two years, and though my first was not due to my own actions, I still had to realize that I’m not invincible. Never having a serious injury as a child or adolescent, I never really had to think about the possibility of my actions leading to serious harm.
For my birthday, Kaitlin took me geocaching and to a Braves game! She’s the best.
I saw my little brother walk for his high school graduation. And now he’s in college. Life happens so fast! 1997 doesn’t seem too long ago, and I can vividly remember the day my father told me I was going to have another little brother.
Kaitlin and I traveled to South Carolina to our friends wedding.
I began working at Starbucks, solidifying my physiological dependence on caffeine, and introducing me to a phenomenal company and crew. I am lucky to work here.
Also in June, I baked my last batch of bread for Rome, Ga’s Great Harvest Bread Company. The company was being sold and would no longer be a Great Harvest franchise. I never worked anywhere as long as I had worked at the bakery, and I owe a considerable amount of my growth as an employee and a person to my time there. Nothing compares to making bread from scratch, and I continue to do so in my home from time to time.
On June 18th, our marriage turned four years old! We weren’t able to be together that day, but it was special nonetheless. Marriage has blessed my life more than anything I have experienced since receiving my salvation in 2008. God has taught me more about myself and about love through the covenant of marriage that I can put to words. I love this girl! I’m grateful I get to grow old and do life with her. Every moment is meaningful.
Every July 4th, Kaitlin’s family tries to have a beach trip to their new retirement home in Yulee, Florida (about 15 minutes from Amelia Island).
Later in the summer, I took Kaitlin to Charleston for a birthday getaway trip, where we enjoyed restful time at the beach, explored Market Street, went on a sunset kayaking tour, and ate some amazing food. It was a fun-packed time, for sure!
When August hit and nursing school officially started, life began to change. Facial hair disappeared. Exams covered countless chapters of material. But I still enjoyed (and continue to) knowing I was on a path that God designed me for. In the end, I was working hard and studying not for myself, but for Him and for His people that I would soon be serving with a new set of skills.
Awkward-faced lunch break selfies became the new thing.
My mother turned 29 again! So I took this picture of her and my brother. He made that face on purpose.
I received my white coat, which I never actually wear. I do love and appreciate the symbolism of it, though.
We joined Kingdom Valenia at Going Caching 2015, a geocaching mega event.
We took a trip to see Amicalola Falls while the leaves were changing color. Gorgeous.
All-nighters with notes spread all over our living room also became the new thing.
Thanksgiving and Christmas brought family together. Not being able to see them much due to school and work made it extra-special this year.
2015 ended the way it started: a selfie. We bought a selfie-stick and used it to take a family picture with all our animals for the Christmas card. It was a greater challenge than we expected, but we eventually got it. Sorta.