2015 is over. 2016 is 3 days in.
I always get squirrel-ly at the beginning of a new year. I shouldn’t; it’s really just another day on the calendar. But I was (am) also the kid who loved the first day of school, and adored new school supplies. Fresh start, and all that.
2015 was a good year.
I’m not sure what I mean by that, really. I’m not entirely sure how one quantifies a “good” year vs. a “challenging” or “difficult” year. In a sense, should we as Christ-followers evaluate our years based upon God’s grace, which is sufficient in both joyful events and tough events? Or, probably more than likely, I am overthinking. As I am prone to do.
Anyway, 2015 was a good year.
So, I thought I’d take a moment and do some reviewing, if you will so indulge me, dear reader. I’d like to share some stats, and then some fun Superlatives, and then a brief note on the year to come.
First, some stats:
I have, once again, thoroughly enjoyed throwing my thoughts here, and continue to be ever so grateful for those of you who read–whether you visit here occasionally, or you have happened upon here by accident. I’ve received several emails from you, and have met some new friends as a result. Thank you for your encouragement, thank you for your questions, and thank you, even, for your debates and differing viewpoints. It has been fun, is fun, and as of today, I foresee continuing to share my very imperfect and floundering attempts to define life in the shadow of the cross here on earth.
This little corner of the internet was viewed approximately 33,000 times in 2015, with visits from 155 countries. That amazes me. I know the vast majority stumbled upon this site while looking up information, but some of those stumbles have resulted in some very interesting conversations. I am grateful for each and every visit.
Another fun “end-of-the-year” stat email report I received had to do with fitness goals. I’ve worn a FitBit all year long, and have worked hard to achieve 10,000 steps most every day. Fitbit tells me that the following things were accomplished:
- Number of Steps Taken: 2,857,208 steps
- Number of Stairs Climbed: 978 floors
- Number of Miles Walked: 1,237.24 miles
That’s crazy. We will see how things look at the end of 2016.
- Tim went to Navy Boot Camp, and graduated from “A” School (IT Specialist)
- Bethany started violin lessons, and sang a few times with me (there is nothing like getting to sing with my girl)
- Mark got his first “job”–as bagger at Kroger (the boy apparently knows all there is to know about the grocery business now)
- Keli (with a friend) bought her first condo–and did an amazing job of renovating it and turning it into a perfect first “home”. They also are the proud parents of a new puppy, Baxter.
- Me: I traveled quite a bit for work—Mostly to GA, LA and Northern VA. More travel is on the horizon, starting with Phoenix next week. I had articles published in a couple of journals (US and UK), and completed a children’s book.
And, now for some fun Superlatives….
What’s that? Well, remember in high school when the year book came out, there were things like “Best Cheerleader” and “Most likely to Succeed”? Well, I’ve captured some of the “Best’s” from 2016–at least, from where I’m standing. Here they are:
- Star Wars (Ok, ok. So maybe that seems way too pop culture driven. But I’m telling you, when Han Solo and Chewie showed up on that big screen, on the Millennium Falcon, and Solo said “Chewie, we’re home….”; yeah, I got the feels. So, Star Wars it is.
- The Good Lie
- Avengers Age of Ultron
- Finding Vivian Meier
Best New (to me) Words
- Scripturient: Having a strong urge to write (this, my friends, is the me in a nutshell)
- Pluviophile – Lover of rain (I do love the rain; but really I love the sky more)
Maybe it isn’t right to label a sermon as “best”. So, instead I’ll qualify this category as a list of sermons that I found to be particularly important and that I think others would find as helpful as I did (you can click on the titles to hear recordings of each of the sermons):
- All Lives Matter (Preached by Michael Howard on 1/18/2015)
- Preaching to the Heart (by Tim Keller on 4/14/2015–this is actually a workshop he taught, but I found it as impacting as a sermon)
- Words That Restore (Preached by Gene Cornett on 7/26/2015, on James 5:13-18)
- God’s Plan for Husbands and Wives (Preached by Michael Howard on 10/4/2015–best sermon I have ever heard on this subject, even though it absolutely wrecked my soul. Ephesians 5:19-21)
2015 wasn’t a great year for me in the realm of reading. I didn’t read nearly as much as I usually do, and I wasn’t as thrilled with the selection of books that I did read. Still, of course, there were some gems that I read. Here they are:
- Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression by Zack Eswine
- Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More: Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist by Karen Swallow Prior
- Lila by Marilynne Robinson (My Top Pick)
- The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life by A.W. Tozer
O My Soul, Arise by Sovereign Grace captured into words so much of what my mind and soul ached to express this year. It was a huge gift to be able to sing this for my church family earlier in 2015:
O my soul, arise
Behold the risen Christ
Your Great High Priest
Your spotless sacrifice
O my soul, arise
God owns you as His child
Shake off your guilty fears
My soul, arise
My God is reconciled
His pard’ning voice I hear
He owns me as His child
I can no longer fear
With confidence I now draw nigh
With confidence I now draw nigh
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry
- What Wondrous Love is This by King’s Kalaidoscope
- Chris Stapleton: Ok, this guy’s music is excellent. It’s old-time Country stuff. It’s gritty, it’s real. His song “Tennessee Whiskey“, sung at this year’s CMAs, was my first introduction to his music. Since then, I’ve had his album “Traveler” on replay. A bunch.
Best Restaurants (’cause I love food):
- Create Your Own Cheesesteak and Cheesecake (I found this place in Chicago. Oh, my goodness. Create your own cheesecake. MMMM)
- Giordano’s Deep Dish Pizza (also in Chicago, cause you can’t go to Chicago and not eat deep dish)
- Hook and Plow (Hermosa Beach, CA–definitely wins for the best food and atmosphere)
- Tin Roof Bistro (Manhattan Beach, CA–another fun place with great atmosphere)
- The Beach House in Hermosa Beach, CA (what’s not to love about an oceanside hotel with quaint rooms that have fireplaces? This is where my work team meets each year for our team meeting. Great fun.)
Looking ahead to 2016
I don’t know quite what to think. I’m oddly uneasy about the year ahead. A bit unsettled. 2015 was so good; that I am irrationally a bit fearful of the 12 months that lay before us. That’s silly, I know. And I don’t much like this odd sensation. Surely it is unfounded. But, what I do know for sure is this: There will be many joys, and some sorrows. There will be successes and failures and challenges. We do not know what tomorrow morning holds. But what is truth, what has to be truth, what I pray is truth, is this: there is enough grace from God, our father, for all of it.
Every. Single. Second.