You’d never guess it by glancing at my desk, but I have a thing for planners and organization systems. My Mom-in-law knows this about me. For the last few Christmases, I’ve looked forward to a thoughtful gift she’s handpicked: a brand, spankin’ new calender, complete with stickers, tabs for each family member and a pocket for holding all of the random paperwork I will be sure to collect in the coming weeks and months.

Swoon.

As I sit at the kitchen table with a fresh pen, adding future appointments, events and responsibilities to the first few pages of my 2018 calendar, the highs, lows, and even a few of the seemingly mundane moments of the previous year flicker in my head.

2017 Reflections

2017 had its fair share of ups and downs.

Our guest room hosted family members five times in the last 12 months, which is definitely a highlight. I can’t tell you how much we enjoyed getting to spend quality time with those who made the long trip across the ocean to visit us.

We also shared a memorable trip with friends and checked two new countries off our travel bucket list this year. So many incredible memories with people we love!

friends at Keukenhof
With my friend, Lori, at Keukenhof gardens in The Netherlands
Buckingham Palace
A beautiful day at Buckingham Palace on our first trip to London

On the flip side, we dealt with disappointments, tough decisions, mysterious health issues, crazy work schedules, burnout and relentless car trouble. We also had to say goodbye to a few close friends and colleagues, which is never easy.

Despite the challenges we faced, my husband and I grew together as teammates and professionals.

I’m so proud of Dan for the work he does for our family and community every day. It’s apparent he’s found his calling serving others in the medical field, and he inspires me every time he laces up his boots.

When the offer to work part-time from home for USAA as the International Military Life Community Manager crossed my path, I took a leap of faith. At the end of July, I left my dream job as a writer-editor for Stars and Stripes  to homeschool my first-grader and pre-schooler. Let me just say, this wasn’t an easy decision by any means.

After a few sleepless nights and many tears shed, I’m confident in the decision I made for my family. I miss my amazing co-workers, and I am so thankful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I had to learn, grow and be a part of the well-respected organization, but I know coming home was the right choice for this season.

Nature Hike

In September, I was given the chance to fly to Texas for one week to attend the USAA DigiMilEx conference in San Antonio (I wrote about my experience on the USAA Community website) and meet my new colleagues in person. My parents generously offered to have the boys fly out with me, so they got to spend time with family in Houston while I focused on work for a few days.

Rainforest Cafe Galveston, TX

At the event, I went behind the scenes at USAA headquarters (what an amazing company to work for!), soaked up as much information and wisdom as I could, and met a few of my milspouse heroes. Talk about inspiring!

USAA DigiMilEx

The fall brought news we weren’t expecting: We learned we’re leaving Germany in just a handful of months and found out where we’re headed next.

Now, we’ve survived our first semester of homeschool (woohoo!) and spent our last Christmas in Germany (heavy sigh).

As we look forward to the months ahead, a few reflections and resolutions are scribbled in my journal, but I am laying my well-intentioned plans at His feet.

What to Expect from Courtney at Home in 2018

If I had to choose one word to describe my goals for this space in 2018 it would be: community.

It means a lot to me that you take the time to read and comment, and I want to interact with you more and get to know you better. Blogging is often a one-sided conversation, and I would like to do what I can to change that here.

With that in mind, here are a few small things I’m working on for the new year:

  • A near-weekly Bible study – I’ll be sharing more details about this in the next few weeks! Stay tuned!
  • A Facebook group
  • Collaborations with inspiring moms and military spouses
  • More personal posts
  • More tools, resources and giveaways for military spouses, moms and family travelers

Top 10 Courtney at Home Posts in 2017

This is a list of the most-viewed articles on my blog over the last 12 months. From the bottom of my heart – thank you so much for sticking around and being a part of this space as it evolves!

  1. Visit 2 of Germany’s Most Beautiful Castles in 24 Hours
  2. 4 Don’t Miss Trips While You’re Stationed in Germany
  3. The First and Last Days of Kindergarten
  4. Resilient Military Spouses: Doug
  5. Purchase Handmade Dish Cloths to Support a Veteran Milfamily’s IUI Journey
  6. Help UTR Give Lost Moments of Connection Back to Military Families
  7. Honoring World TTTS Awareness Day with Abigail Wilson
  8. Resilient Military Spouses: Cindy
  9. Resilient Military Spouses: Melissa
  10. Resilient Military Spouses: Stacy

10 Favorite Pieces for other Publications in 2017

I’m also thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to share my passion for writing with other bloggers and organizations serving military families this year. I’ve compiled a list of 10 of my favorite pieces (in no particular order) written for other publications in 2017.

  1. To the Milspouse Staying Behind this PCS SeasonServant Mama
  2. 10 Money-Saving Tips for Disneyland ParisStripes Europe
  3. Why Cruise Vacations are Perfect for FamiliesStripes Europe
  4. How to Fly Budget Airlines Like a ProUSAA
  5. 5 Ways to Get Military Kids Excited About Moving OverseasUSAA
  6. 5 Things this Milspouse Wants Mothers-in-Law to Know About DeploymentMilitary One Click
  7. Use These 11 Tips When You Shop on the Economy in GermanyMilitary One Click
  8. Asking for Help is Never Easy – Even for SuperheroesChameleon Kids
  9. What Does it Really Mean to Be a Resilient Military Family?Army Wife Network
  10. 5 Don’t-Miss Holiday Activities for Military Families in EuropeMilitaryByOwner

Personal Goals for 2018

It’s difficult to set any long-term goals – big or small – when you are facing a major move. It’s impossible to know what life is going to look like in just a few months.

In a few words, my personal goals for the new year are all about doing what I need to do to nurture my heart, body, mind and spirit so I am better equipped to serve my people – all the while leaning in to Christ for rest, peace and strength.

My professional goals look vastly different than they did at the start of last year. Women’s ministry is tugging at my heart. I have some exciting things in the works that I will share with you at a later date, but for now I’m praying for guidance and wisdom.

As we flip to the first page of our calendars, we know it isn’t our successes or earnings that define who we are and what we accomplish each year. We face the weeks and months ahead with confidence knowing God is always there – celebrating the highs with us and carrying us through the lows.

Happy New Year!

Wishing you lots of love, joy, peace and adventure in 2018!


Let’s talk! I would love to hear…

When you look back at 2017, what stands out the most?

What are you big dreams and plans for 2018?