Welcome to my annual post of our life in the last year – a review of all the big and little events, travels, habits, heartbreaks, and joys. These posts require a lot of time and energy, in part due to sifting through all the posts I wrote in the last year, but also because these posts spur me to reflect and sit with the previous year for a moment, before stepping into the next one.
Every January, I assemble a blog post of sorts that catalogs our year. Largely organized in list-form, I touch on the big and little things, events and thoughts and experiences that shaped our life over the last year. I do find this incredibly helpful as a sort of reflection, a glance back on the Lord's faithfulness, to show me, time and time again, that He is a good God. And with that mindset, I feel less encumbered as we continue on into the new year, more ready to face a full year of new, fresh days, with the heart attitude that regardless of what the days will hold, mundane or exciting, difficult or good, I can walk into the future with hope and trust in Him. Plus, I do enjoy looking back on a lot of the little details of our life, the ones that make me smile or think, Oh, yes! We loved that! What a little joy in our life.
Now that we're well into January, I'm sitting down to write and glance back at the last year. I'm not much of a resolution-maker (not fundamentally opposed, just not for me), but I do find it's healthiest for my heart and mind to reflect and then continue on into the next year. Like every single year, there are good, hard, and in-between snippets and seasons.
Every year, I find it a bit therapeutic to look back on the last year. I know my heart is bent toward nostalgia, and at times, I wonder if that is one of the reasons I find looking back easier than looking forward. That's something for me to mull over, perhaps. All that said, at the close of a year, I find that it is good heart medicine to ruminate over the good, the hard, and the in-between. To think on the things that are the same, things that are wildly different, what didn't produce joy, and what did.
Every January, when many are looking forward to the next year, I like to take a few moments to look back. I dig into what the previous year meant for me personally and what it meant for me and Nicholas in the context our our family and community. After I've done that, I feel like the year has a sort of closure, and I can look forward with clearer eyes. As is usual with my annual year-in-review posts,* I've grouped everything by category and linked to previous pertinent blog posts. This was a big year for us! But I suppose every year feels rather big because every year, in it's own style, is a year of full, hard, beautiful life.
For the last few years*, at the very beginning of the new year, I write a post summarizing the previous. And this year, while many people are writing out their resolutions for the next year, I want to look back and remember all the details of this year, an entire year of my life, one in which I woke up and lived 365 days of it. For me, looking back first, and then forward, prepares my heart to be expectant and hopeful as I face a brand new, not-yet-lived year. So, if you're curious, as usual, I've broken up the "year in review" into categories with links to the original posts.
At first glance, it was difficult for me to sum up this year. We didn't move across the country, we didn't start new jobs. But I don't want to categorize the past year on what we didn't do. We did make new friends, grow in our marriage, develop new healthy habits, and I learned a lot of heart lessons about patience in a season where we are doing our best to "bloom where we are planted." It was a hard year, but a good one. I would never wish aways the difficulties of 2016, because a "happy-go-lucky" existence is devoid of true, honest growth. And growth (closer to Jesus) is the stuff of existence. I categorized my blog posts from this year, mostly as a helpful lesson to myself and a way to honestly reflect on the year. I hope you enjoy rereading as many or as few of them as you like!
At first glance, this feels like the most low-key year we've had in several years. We didn't move across the country, change jobs, graduate, get married, or any of our previous big transitions. However, upon further inspection, this was a big year for us, in a bunch of small ways. And it was helpful for me to find all the little indications of God's grace that are so evident after even a moment of reflection. This is a bit of a fly-by, but here's what my year looked like: