2017 Highlights!

Farewell 2017! When I reflect on this year, it has been marked by simple joys, dear and sweet gifts, and heart strings touched that no one else can see. I did the least amount of traveling this year I think in a decade (I was only out of the country for 2 weeks!!) and yet, my heart has been so so full. 

I went looking for pictures to sum it all up, and I narrowed 317 “highlights” to just 10 images. Funny enough, my guitar isn’t a focal point in any of them. Even chasing my dreams can’t compare to the joy of connecting with people.

These pictures and memories mean so much to me, and I’m not sure if they will to anyone else. But if they don’t touch your heart the way they do mine, I hope you are at least reminded of the beautiful gifts in your own life, which I expect will look much different. Nevertheless, here are 10 of my biggest highlights from 2017!

IMG_53181.  Soaking up the sun and the Son. This year I made it a point to see more sunshine. You can’t tell by my chronically pale skin, but I found joy in connecting with my Creator in the warmth of the day, the shade of my garden, the softness of grass beneath my feet.

I fell back in love with reading the Word of God, an answer to prayer! After a lifetime of studying the Scriptures I had honestly just felt “over it” most days. My perfectionist mind kept getting in the way, but I finally got the breakthrough to ask God to speak and just read anything. I kind of ditched a regular “studying” and didn’t worry about “getting something” every day. I learned to trust that it was worth the time spent and that God would bring verses to mind when I needed them.

Also, this year many “seeds” sprouted, and a harvest of flowers seemed to pop up in my heart (and in fields!!)

 

IMG_36362.  Soaring together. I got a front row seat (and sometimes claustrophobic, bumpy back seat) as my best friend’s dreams of becoming a pilot came back into sight. Miracle after miracle has put her back in the path she was born to fly in. Perhaps the most beautiful of all has been seeing her soar to new heights mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. Life is better when we journey together, and that was definitely evident this year. 

 

IMG_42483. This stinking girl!!! Spending time with Ari and my family in Peru was an incredible gift of joy. Never a dull moment with a girl who loves to paint, laugh, splash, wrestle, cook, organize, build, and “fix” things she’s taken apart. 

When my sister first said she was pregnant years ago, I grieved for about a month knowing I’d have another life to love so far away. I desperately wanted Ari to know how much I love her, and I worried the distance would be too big for a babe to break through. This year has done nothing but prove my biggest fears completely wrong. Whether we FaceTime or hang out in person, we love each other and have a relationship that is completely our own.

Watching my sister as a mom and Jonathan as a dad has been healing, inspiring, and life-giving. Ari is in fabulous hands, and she is thriving as the person she was created to be! I’m so proud of all three of them.

Also, while I was away in Peru this year, I got some perspective that has changed my life. It was complex and revolutionary to me at the time, and now it’s quite simple. Getting away and reflecting helped me realize what contributes to my life in the best ways, and I made changes to include more of the good and less of the toxic once I got home. That has included changing my mindset, habits, and people I surround myself with. And for a pretty dang good life, it has managed to get even better! 

 

IMG_47194. Friends through whatever weather. I watched a great friend gain a husband and family. The four of us got to share in each other’s joys and burdens for another year, and I don’t cease to recognize the treasure in this sweet and spicy crew. Grateful for the love we share for each other.

 

IMG_60675. Rest and healing. God provided little getaway gifts throughout the year, and restored my heart in the process. Breathing fresh and foreign air, times of reflecting, exploring, growing. Complete with accommodations well beyond my budget, taken care of by my Heavenly Father one way or another. These small trips I treasure in my heart and could never fully explain how much they mean to me—but I hope you enjoy time with God in your own way, because His personal love is just too good to miss!

 

IMG_20156.  New life. Celebrating the arrival of precious little loves into this world. Both of these babies are complete miracles, whose strong mommies fought extra hard to bring them here safely. What a treasure to hold their tiny, healthy, miraculous lives wrapped in a warm baby bundle. They are destined to do great things! Can’t wait to see where they go!

 

DSC_03177. Baptism. And the events leading up to this day. (A tea party for women pilots, a worship night, a church service or two.) Too much to even write in a small post, but this day was one of redemption, glory, joy, hope, family, restoration, pure beauty, and the thoughtfulness of God. 

Four amazing people who are so special to me for different reasons got baptized in a day that couldn’t have felt less religious, and yet was so full of the supernatural love of God. Everyone who was there experienced something special, like a hand-wrapped gift from God unique to them. 

We got to share this day with the new church family God blesses us with in 2017. So many answered prayers wrapped up in this group, in this photo. 

 

IMG_04888. Bible Babes. At the perfect time, a tribe of God-loving, bold, daring lionesses entered my life. Together we have encouraged, sent out, and uplifted one another. We have a beautiful sisterhood committed to speaking into each other with the love of God. Can’t wait to grow deeper in 2018. 

(Also somewhat showcased in this picture—our home has been used to host worship nights, birthday parties, baptisms, and more!! It’s a place of joyful celebration, quiet rest, and peaceful healing for not only me but many others.)

 

IMG_10279. Family time. For 5 1/2 weeks I did nothing but adventure and play with both immediate and extended family. My sister, her husband, and their daughter were at the forefront of attention and the reason I got to visit many other family members I wouldn’t have otherwise seen. It was a blast seeing the world through a 2-year-old’s lens of awe and wonder, and then sharing the joy with others. And WHY do families never seem to get together enough?? Thankful for the way this visit brought us all closer.

 

IMG_249810. Running free. This year wasn’t always picture-perfect (do you feel misled!?), but I’m going into 2018 with a light and joyful heart, focusing on the plethora of good I was gifted with. Moments like this are simple and can happen almost any day if you make time for them, and I intend to next year.

Here’s to more adventures, more connecting with people off of the stage, more snuggling my fluffy pup, more bold and daring moves, and growing more in love and wisdom this coming year! 

Wishing you all a joyful and fulfilling 2018! Have a blessed New Year!!

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