2016 is over. 2017 is underway.
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 27,700 times in 2016, with visitors from all over the world. 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 email conversations and the making of new friends. I am grateful for each and every visit. I still can’t believe anyone would want to read what I write.
Another fun “end-of-the-year” stat email report I received had to do with fitness goals. It was a challenging year physically–I battled severe plantar fasciitis for several months following the half-marathon. So painful. But with the help of some cortisone shots and sheer will-power to gut it out and push through the pain, I think I am mostly on the other side of it now. I also had 3 minor, but unexpected surgeries this year–and each required some down time for recovery, particularly the one for my toe. But, overall, it was a good year. 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: 3,360,069 steps
- Number of Stairs Climbed: 1126 floors
- Number of Miles Walked: 1,457.03 miles
- And one blasted half-marathon finished
That’s crazy. We will see how things look at the end of 2017.
- Tim completed “A” school and thought he was headed to Spain. However, his orders were changed, and he is currently assigned to the USS George Washington, which is home-ported right here in Norfolk, VA. A bit discouraging for him, as he wanted to “see the world”. But it has been nice having him nearby.
- Mark has completed his second year working at Kroger. He is a senior now, and will graduate in May. He is obsessed right now with tennis–spending hours on the court.
- Keli traveled with me to Hermosa Beach, CA this year. So. Much. Fun. She continues to work at Mens Wearhouse.
- Bethany is still loving all things music. She now has a piano, and I so love listening to her play. Bethany and I traveled to NYC for the first time this year; and took in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. Amazing trip, with my girl.
- I’m in my fourth year of working for Dynamic Systems, Inc–an IT company based in LA. I’ve traveled more this past year than the previous three–mostly to New York, but also to Georgia, Arizona and California. There will be more of that in the upcoming year–starting with two weeks straight of travel in January. I’m grateful for my job. So much so. And the travel–while taxing–has given me enough airline miles (along with assistance from their grandparents!) to take my crew to Hawaii this upcoming year, to thank them for being so amazing over the past 8 years. Such a gift of God’s grace to us.
- I also have had more writing assignments/jobs. Writing continues to keep my soul well.
And, now for some fun Superlatives….
What’s a superlative??? Well, remember in high school when the year book came out, there were things like “Best Cheerleader” and “Most likely to Succeed”? (Speaking of which, Mark was voted “Most Changed” this past fall, by his classmates.” Well, I’ve captured some of the “Best’s” from 2016–at least, from where I’m standing. Here they are:
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them ~ Admittedly, this may have been my favorite movie of the year simply because my crew grew up loving Harry Potter, and here we are–years later–and they still love HP. And, I was able to take all four of them to go see this, the night it opened. They may be 23, 21, 18 and 17 years old, but they each brought their Harry Potter wands with them, and had so much fun together that night. Family aside, I think the directors pulled this off. It could have gone horribly wrong, but they stayed true to the HP standards, yet made a completely unique movie. Well done.
- Rogue One (This almost took the title–also so very well done.)
- Moana (So good to have a Hawaiian Disney princess now!)
- Hidden Figures ~ Phenomenal.
- Hacksaw Ridge
- Queen of Katwe ~ Not an actual documentary, but based on a true story.
Best New (to me) Words
- Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia : Fear of long words…how awesome is this????
- Bookworm Terms: These aren’t actual Webster-defined words, but I love them nonetheless..you can click HERE to read several, wonderful, bookish words.
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):
- Sovereignty of God (Part 3 in a series) ~ Preached by Michael Howard at Seaford Baptist Church on 30-October.
- Remember Who You Are ~ Carrie Sandom at The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference (TGCW16) on 1 Peter 2:4-10
- A Shepherd and a Lion ~ John Piper at The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference (TGCW16) on 1 Peter 5
2016 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:
- Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
- Letters to an American Lady by C.S. Lewis
- Greetings From Utopia Park: Surviving a Transcendent Childhood by Claire Hoffman
- Systematic Theology by John Frame (Currently Reading)
Undone 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 late 2016:
Your Spirit had awakened
Our lifeless hearts to see
The King in brilliant glory
Revealed in majesty
We were ruined in Your presence
And tearing at the seams
Our eyes had gazed upon the King of kings
We fall down in awe of You
We fall down, undone
We fall down before You, Lord
Our hands had crafted idols
Our lips had spoken lies
Every wayward thought we had
Against us testified
But You were rich in mercy
To provide what You demand
And now on Christ, the solid rock, we stand
Holy, Holy, Holy One
- You Are My Sunshine by Chris and Morgane Stapleton (I got to hear them sing this in concert and it gave me chicken skin.)
- PostModern Jukebox ~ My girl introduced me to these guys, and I’m hooked. They do big band/jazzy/40’s covers of modern songs, complete with all the instruments–so much fun. They’ve covered dozens and dozens of songs. Good stuff. Just plain fun.
- My boy’s Senior Year PowderPuff Routine, (that link will take you to the video) which he helped choreograph. Perfection.
- And then there was the time I was stuck in the men’s bathroom at the movie theatre, because I went into the wrong restroom and didn’t realize it until I was trapped in the middle stall…
- Indianapolis, IN, for TGCW16–amazing time of learning and worship, and best of all, I got to attend with one of my dearest friends, who I had not seen in a very long time. Joy.
- NYC, with my youngest girl–nothing compares to getting to fulfill my girl’s dream of seeing a show on Broadway.
- New Mexico — my father moved their this year, and I visited him after a work trip to Phoenix. I worked one summer at Glorieta, NM, and I have never, ever forgotten the sky. It was so good to drive by myself across the state of NM for a couple of hours, and see that sky again. There is no sky like it anywhere.
Best Restaurants (’cause I love food):
- DiCastro’s (Rome, NY) – I spent a lot of time in Rome, NY this year, for work. DiCastro’s has the best chicken alfredo. mmmmm.
- 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.)
- Homewood Suites in Syracuse, NY ~ I love this hotel, for dozens of reasons. The rooms are tastefully decorated, modern, and a nice retreat after a long work week. But my number one reason is because I accidentally left my Pooh Bear there one month, and came back the following month and they had kept him for me. Love.
- The Belamar Hotel in Manhattan Beach, CA ~ Stayed there for the first time this past summer for work. Very nice.
Looking ahead to 2017
So now what?
Twelve months lay before each of us. We don’t know what is ahead. We are not promised tomorrow. We can plan–and it is good and right to plan. I have lots of “plans” for 2017. But ultimately, it’s not up to me.
And that’s a good thing. Because I–and you–need God’s sovereignty to be truth.
And, it is.
However, 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.