It goes without saying that 2016 was a big year for Team Martin. At this time last year, we were preparing for our biggest adventure yet, and we had no clue what we were in for.

With one decision, everything changed. Our routine. Our priorities. Our license plates. It was a bit of a whirlwind…and I often feel like I’m still spinning. In a blur of new beginnings, milestone moments and some of the most difficult challenges we’ve faced, 2016 was transformative.

I trusted God completely and took a leap.

I lived in a retirement village. (I’m still composing the stories from this adventure. Stay tuned for a comedic blog post.)

I was separated from my family during the week for nearly two months. I missed Ellie’s first steps and the fall that broke EC’s wrist (see above).

I sat in a meeting feeling helpless because Chris and the girls were 200 miles away in the closet bracing for a tornado that came far too close for comfort.

I spent hours in the car. I was a frequent flyer on I-59 to I-20.

I rediscovered the joy of reading books (and by reading I really mean listening to someone read them to me on Audible because seriously, who has time to sit down and read???).

I picked up the art of hand lettering while riding in the jumper seat between two car seats on many a trip from Tuscaloosa to Hattiesburg and back.

I used a GPS for three solid months to find my way around my new hometown—which was surprisingly fun. When do you ever get to feel that lost?

I took my first-ever girls trip. And it was so fulfilling! (see post about Holy Guacamole).

In an unfortunate twist of events caused by a water leak, Chris and I spent Thanksgiving serving meals to complete strangers at a local restaurant. It was good for the soul—and our kitchen wasn’t destroyed in the process.

We also realized that in Tuscaloosa, the best day to go Black Friday shopping is actually on Iron Bowl Saturday. Every store was like a ghost town!

I learned to say YES. But also, to say NO.

I let go of perfection in many areas of my life. (Don’t believe me? Come see the disaster inside my house, ask Chris about my failed attempt at an anniversary gift or consider the fact that I sent out 100+ Christmas cards AFTER Christmas.)

I was given the chance to start over, and I didn’t take it lightly.

I joined a running group and started taking my training seriously again—like running 7 miles when it’s raining and the wind chill is 25 degrees.

I became the newbie — at work, at church, at daycare, at carpool pickup line when I made the rookie mistake of not realizing there was a child safety lock INSIDE the door. Nothing says “Hi, I’m new here” like having to put the car in park and get out to open the door for EC. I broke every carpool line rule that day.

I saw my husband in a different light. Being a dad is tough, but being a dad to two girls?! But he does it with such ease. And they have so much fun with him!

I made new friends—lots of them! I am so grateful for the new people God has placed in my life.

I watched my girls become best friends. Those giggles fill our house and warm my heart.

I celebrated TEN YEARS of marriage. And there’s no one else I could ever imagine being on this crazy rollercoaster ride with!

I learned A LOT. About myself. About being vulnerable. About being guarded. About being open to change and criticism. And about positioning myself in the path of God’s grace.

As the newness of our first year in Alabama begins to fade, I am so grateful for the whirlwind that was 2016.

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