100 Things I Found Amazing in 2016

2016 is a glass brimming with gratitude and unexpected friends like Emma Hughes. She and I have been chatting about lessons learned and discoveries made, sadness and celebration, hurt and healing, mistakes and amazing things. So here’s my farewell letter to 2016 and a list of 100 things I found amazing within its days.

Dear 2016,

You are the year too much became cool. Decades of ideas, dreams, and thoughts resurrected and refocused. I turned 37 and you taught me (again) to stop caring so much what people think. You are the year I started with no regrets, went shelling in a freezing tidal pool, wrote love notes, and penned hesitant poetry about bombings. During your spring, I struggled to find Easter resurrection, so I wrote about suffering, picked strawberries and muddled my way through May, motherhood memoirs, and wept for middle school coming. (Turns out, there’s a whole lot of wonderful in this phase too.)

You were the year my baby sister married and I pitched a book proposal. The year I decided the hurried-scurried life sucks, and being present to people is worth sacrificing every selfish bone in my body.

You are the year I started working on me again. The year I stretched into the maturity of my extroverted introspective Enneagram 4 sensitive self and started liking her. What a thought! You taught me to rest, to run again, and to be O.K. with pinging between my pinball machine of a brain full of ideas and praying like a monk.

You are the year I made a left turn past lonely, found my dream team, and led a 31 day writing charge, all the while, letting God love me more fully. You are the year I reconciled being a friend of Christ and a real poet, which I’ll be working on for a lifetime.

During your reign, 2016, I found plenty of frustrations and sorrow, but I also found miracles and the goodness of God. I learned to really forgive, took a giant step toward brave, give meaning, and say Come, Lord Jesus during Advent.

Yes, you are a glass brimming with flecks of drinkable gold: scintillating adventures and stunning connections. 2016, you are simply wonderful.

100 Simply Wonderfuls from 2016

Books, people, ideas, experiences, things I tried and random bits of wisdom and hope I collected this year. Salut!

  1. Real things still matter: honesty, resourcefulness, simple pleasures and courage. Thank you, Laura Ingalls Wilder.
  2. Life-changing books that made me stop everything like Sabbath and Pilgrim’s Inn.
  3. Twitter parties full of friends who show up: the fabulous flashmob of Five Minute Friday.
  4. The connecting power of Voxer.
  5. Tweetspeak poetry prompts and Every Day poems in my inbox.
  6. Holy yoga when I was a hot mess with Caroline Williams on Youtube.
  7. Meeting Compel sisters and my dream team at She Speaks.
  8. Hearing Emily Wieringa speak there and share the art of inspirational memoir: “This desire to make God known, is worth more than our very lives. And that’s the story worth telling.”
  9. Hooking up with fearless Kate Motaung at the beach and gutsy Amy L. Sullivan in the mountains.
  10. Finding Christian poets at Breathe, dessert + coffee food truck (be still my sweettooth), and the niceness of Grand Rapids.
  11. The quaintness of St. Joseph, MI.
  12. Skateboarding while writing about God’s love.
  13. Hosting 31 days of five minute free writes.
  14. My sister getting married.
  15. Refinding myself with the help of Upstream Field Guide.
  16. Reading The Secret Garden aloud with the kids and remembering “the first miraculous morning when the garden begins to grow.” It never gets old, however many years I live.
  17. Spiritual formation with Renovaré book club + their thought-provoking podcast.
  18. Gourmet hipster donuts: Hurt’s in Springfield, MO.
  19. Summer fun at White Water, a classic relived from my childhood.
  20. Escapes to Groundhouse Coffee.
  21. Reading On Being a Writer with in-person writing friends.
  22. After soaking up Ann Kroeker‘s writerly wisdom all year, I got to meet her in person.
  23. Finishing the old TV series Numbers (because I loved Northern Exposure.)
  24. Then finding a new late night addiction to the hilarious spy throwback show Chuck.
  25. Truly finding the joy of poetry in a memoir.
  26. Collaborating with so many amazing writers! (You know who you are.)
  27. Trying to learn Greek on Mango.
  28. Remembering “home isn’t a place where loneliness never happens, but a place where loneliness is transformed.” -Sally Clarkson
  29. Taking better photos with my phone. Gracias, Snap Shop photography!
  30. Diving into the brilliantly phantasmagorical mind of George MacDonald.
  31. Fierce, fabulously Spirit-filled workouts with Revelation Wellness.
  32. Family traditions like making lotion bars and PW cinnamon rolls with Abby.
  33. Dreaming of traveling the world with my kids thanks to The Simple Show.
  34. Epic wisdom in nurturing boys and raising girls from the God-Centered Mom.
  35. Learning the art of being an ENFP on the Meyers-Briggs: this book helped so much.
  36. Hosting a Gutsy Girls book club about Corrie Ten Boom.
  37. Trevor Hudson’s nightly prayers.
  38. Redefining achievement: “If you can help someone, then you’re a success. share your low points and how you’ve battled them. Share your biggest doubts, challenges, and failures so that readers can join you in your journey. Write about the thing you fear the most. We can, in part, redeem the low points and valleys of our lives by inviting others into our journeys.” –Ed Cyzewski
  39. Claiming Cafe des Amis as our personal French cafe and doing dinner up right with courses + wine pairings.
  40. The incredible harmonies of Oh Wonder.
  41. Getting a handle on my never-ending list + calendar with Inkwell Press Planner travel planner and Weekly Jump Start.
  42. Syncing up with my body. My Garmin Forerunner assisted greatly.
  43. A new pair of rainbow Sanuks.
  44. Making peace with the strengths finder test.
  45. Taking personality analysis to the next level with 16personalities.
  46. The Enneagram.
  47. Reading the paper over breakfast at First Watch.
  48. Getting lost in book stacks at Half Price Books + Savers.
  49. IF: Gathering.
  50. Yoga socks.
  51. Great blogs like: Cisneros Cafe,
  52. The Very Cranky Mummy, and
  53. Altarwork.
  54. A Thing of Beauty by Emily Conrad.
  55. Napping on my outdoor white couch from IKEA in the sun.
  56. Purple pansies.
  57. Fresh eggs, happy chickens, and Tawanda the turkey from my local farmer.
  58. Black Papermate flair pens, because they just make the writing life better.
  59. My Microsoft Surface Pro (how I love thee!)
  60. Chile Mochas from Starbucks and the occasional Christmas blend.
  61. Strawberry Hill Povitica English walnut bread.
  62. Earrings from Fair Trade Friday and Wild Juniper.
  63. Going out in public sans makeup more often (thank you, Emily Conrad + Nifty Betty).
  64. When I must makeup: Cowgirl Dirt.
  65. Buying ecological AND economical friendly house products with The Grove Collaborative.
  66. The menu planning magic of Prep Dish.
  67. Celebrating a Messianic Passover Seder.
  68. Rereading Resurrection Year.
  69. Walking around my personal lake down the street.
  70. Praying in all things: “According to the Psalms, the primary use of prayer is not for expressing ourselves but for becoming ourselves—and we cannot do that alone.” –Eugene Peterson
  71. Exploring caves and mountains with the kids.
  72. Finding a pair of Sperry sneakers I can wear anywhere.
  73. Taking the kids to play chess with the elderly at a local assisted living home.
  74. Celebrating Kyle’s birthday with Korean BBQ.
  75. Giving away The Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
  76. Becoming myself and telling that story because “When we, any of us who have been transformed by Christ, tell our own stories, we are telling the story of who God is.” –Shauna Niequist.
  77. Learning to celebrate in the mess better.
  78. Movies, new and old: The Martian, Sing Street, Soul Surfer, and Passengers.
  79. Summer Olympics in Rio. Why don’t they do them every year?
  80. Giving the kids an allowance with Financial Peace Jr.
  81. Candles and quiet most mornings.
  82. Walking through the park daily with the Examen prayer by the Jesuits of Britain Pray as you go app.
  83. Living out the Psalms with this Switchfoot devotion.
  84. Monthly Skype chats with besties.
  85. Earbuds with a microphone.
  86. Tea + poetry on Tuesdays.
  87. Friends who make the drive, check in even when I’m checked out, and keep inviting.
  88. Naps.
  89. Speaking of chillaxing, this reminder: “To rest is to prepare yourself to be used by God—because imagine what He can do in a person who is fully rested, able to think and feel deeply?” –Shauna Niequist.
  90. Working on a family mission statement.
  91. Abby’s custom My Little Ponies.
  92. Kyle’s big words and awesome creations.
  93. Bono + Eugene Peterson discussing the Psalms.
  94. Chasing failure by Ryan Leak.
  95. I admit it: The Great British Baking Show made me cry.
  96. Supporting Preemptive Love.
  97. Pumpkin pancakes.
  98. Postcards by Charissa Steyn at Art of Adventure.
  99. Leagues dance parties.
  100. This quote that helps me remember motherhood matters more than words.

2016, I hold you in my palm with all gratefulness before I throw you to the stars, like confetti.Tweet This

I didn’t have time to link to every photo from 2016, but here’s my Instagram if you feel like getting lost in the scrolling vortex.

Happy New Year, Friends!






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January 1, 2017