- In November, I was able to go to Europe for two weeks with two of my amazing friends in Austin. We backpacked in Austria, Switzerland, and France and had the time of our lives! I have a ton of pictures, but haven't put many on facebook or anything yet... once I have some time, I'll get it done. I loved experiencing other cultures, trying to cross the language barriers, and eating crazy food. We had a fantastic time, and I'm so thankful that I was able to take time off and go.
- After Europe, I flew straight into Atlanta, and met my family for Thanksgiving in Newnan. We ate at Sprayberry's BBQ, and at the Varsity in Atlanta... two of my all-time favorites! A lot of my Leavell cousins came the days before thanksgiving, and all of my immediate family was together for Thanksgiving day. I absolutely love spending time with both my immediate and extended family. They are amazing and I am so thankful to have each of them in my life.
- After Newnan, I headed home for a little bit, and caught up on everything. I really am loving living in Austin, and I've made some great friends so far. The Riley family let me go Christmas tree shopping with them one Saturday, and I loved it, since I didn't get to go tree shopping with my family this year. I am so thankful for my Austin family!
- On the 11th, I flew to Birmingham for Rob's graduation from Samford. We had a great weekend... Mom, Dad, NeNe, Uncle Theo, and Aunt Glenna all made it, and we had a great time. I finally got to see the Shire, Rob's home for the last couple of years, and meet all of his friends. Rob graduated on Saturday, and now has a job on campus at Samford... I am so glad that this has all worked out so well for him. I am so thankful to call Rob not only my brother, but also my friend.
- My flight from Birmingham to Austin got canceled on Saturday night, so I had to wait and fly out on Sunday. I was able to go to church with Rob, Mom, and Aunt Glenna at the Church at Brook Hills on Sunday morning. The service was absolutely amazing... incredible worship, and phenomenal teaching by David Platt. In a word, he's brilliant, but incredibly humble. He preached a sermon out of Galatians 3 on Freedom in Christ, and I wish I could describe how good it was... he hit the nail on the head. You should download the Podcast... it was just that good! There aren't many pastors I could listen to for an hour and not get lost or bored. I'm so thankful that Rob has found such a great church home.
- Instead of flying into Austin on Sunday, I flew to DFW because I needed to be there Sunday night anyway. Wes and Rhonda (our HS minister and his wife) picked me up Sunday night, and we had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. I got to stay with Michael, Kim, and Hannah Smith, who are some of my favorite people! We had a great time catching up. I really do miss them! We were all in town for Youth Leader Summit, a leadership workshop for people who work in Student Ministry. This was the second time I've gone through it, and the material is fantastic. It's not a "student ministry in a box" type of thing, but it's all about how to grow as a leader so that you can be better at what you do. I feel like I got so much out of the two day workshop, and I'm so thankful that I'm able to do what I do.
- After the workshop, we headed back to Austin for a few days, wrapped things up at the church, then I left to spend Christmas with my family! I went to Little Rock for a few days, was able to go to church with the fam at Immanuel Baptist Church, where my Dad serves on staff as Senior Associate Pastor for Ministry and Leadership. We had a great time with some family friends in Little Rock, and even went bowling, where I bowled the worst game of my life!
- Then, we headed down to Louisiana to spend Christmas in Ruston with my dad's family. We have had a great time hanging out, talking, playing games, watching movies, and just enjoying spending time together. Today, Rob and I are watching season one of "Chuck" and about ot head out with everyone to do some shopping and then to dinner with the Smiths tonight at Johnny's Pizza. This has been a wonderful Christmas, and I am so thankful for my family!
Whew! That was a lot longer than it was supposed to be, but all that to say, I have so much to be thankful for. This has been a great year, and I am excited about all that God has in store for 2009.