I want to pretend like I’ve been so MIA on the blog over the past year because “I’ve been taking some time for me”, or because “my life is so wildly successful that I just don’t have time”, but the honest truth is just that I’ve been tired this year. And I don’t even mean emotionally or spiritually or anything deep like that, I literally mean I’m so freaking tired at the end of a day that all I want to do is sleep.
Here on the blog, I have a little birthday tradition where I write a list of things I’m thankful for, and each year it grows by one. So this year, as I turn 34, the goal is to write 34 things I’m thankful for. I love this because January is a great time to start the year out with gratitude, and I get to pretend like it’s some novel idea and use it as a birthday post inspiration so I actually sit my butt down and write. Win Win.
I read through last year’s list, and just sat here laughing and simultaneously thinking, “What?!?!” to everything I wrote. And not because they weren’t meaningful or important, but solely because I can’t believe how much has happened over the past year. I couldn’t believe how differently the year started out compared to how it ended. And this is in the best way- my 33rd year was WOW, people. I am humbled and honored and all of it. And I’m so excited to share my 34 things, but before I do, I wanted to say thanks so much for being my reader, friend. I know that I was this gung-ho writer for a long time and then dropped off the face of the earth. But. You show up and read anyway, and it means the world to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
- Jesus’s faithfulness. If you would have told me my senior year of college that all my creative + missions dreams were to come true in the way that they have, I’m just not sure I’d believe it. And yet, here we are.
- Meeting TENTS. This year, some of my dearest friends and I launched a Public Health Nonprofit that bridges the gap between missions and research. We Assess, Empower, Train & Connect using the Public Health & Train the Trainer models. And I can’t believe this is real life. It’s been a crazy amount of work and fun, and it’s only the beginning. Shameless plug to go check out our work and buy some beautiful handmade products (of which 100% of your purchase will go towards our efforts around the globe!) designed by yours truly.
- Nathan. My husband is #goals, you guys. He has worked so hard, and is consistent in that hard work. Everyone applauds someone who makes a big change, but no one applauds the one who stays faithful day in and day out. That’s who he is, everyday- a faithful, hard worker. And I am just so in awe of him.
- Ella Anne. I can’t even begin to tell you how much she has grown this year. She is so freaking smart, considerate of others, and man oh man does this girl love Jesus. Almost everyday in the car, I glance in my rear view mirror and she is worshipping her heart out, hands lifted high. She loves math & science, building with legos, and fashion. I freaking love her.
- Emmelina Clementine. When she was a baby it was a yikes situation. And while she is still fierce AF, she has blossomed into the sweetest girl. Her teachers tell me that she advocates for the others in her class who are feeling too shy or scared. She is quick to love and apologize. She is full of LIFE, friend, it bubbles and explodes out of her and brings so much joy to those around her. I freaking love her.
- Our Sup Fam. Over the summer, Nathan and I felt like the Lord was laying it on our hearts to invite people into our family through simple dinners. We’d been in a crazy season for the past year and a half- so it’s not like we had much to give. But. What we did have was a table and time, so Family Dinners were born. The concept was/is simple: come be loved on and known. No agenda, no pressure, no catch, just quality time around our table. And it’s become our absolute favorite thing. We gather and share and laugh our heads off… it’s the best. We adore our big little fam. In the Word, Jesus sat with people around a table. He broke bread with them, listened to them, loved on them, healed them. Through the simple act of sharing a meal- so many lives were changed, so many holy moments occurred. I can’t speak for everyone, but what I can say is this: this time is like holy ground to me. Breaking bread with these sweet souls, and feeling Love thick and tangible in the room. You don’t have to have a lot to give when you offer Jesus your heart. You don’t have to have much to offer when you ask Him to use you for His purposes. You can have a table and time, or a couple of loaves and fish. But whatever you do have, when you offer it to Him, man does He make it lovely. Offer what you have, friend, it’s worth it.
- Rest. I’ve really gotten to rest over the past few months and it has been the best.
- Swimming. I teach lessons/workshops at the swankiest gym in town now and it is THE BESSSTTT. I get to swim again after years away from the water and it’s giving me life.
- Also the sauna. I didn’t know the glory that saunas were BUT OMG YOU GUYS. I honestly only swim so I can sauna afterwards.
- Disneyland. Yep, I’m aware that this one makes me sound like a total brat. But somehow this past year, I’ve gotten to go on two moms-only-and-no-kids trips to Disneyland and it was the best. Of course we’ll take our kids someday, but I’m thankful for the tribe I have and that somehow we got to leave 21 kids behind to go have a blast ourselves. #winning
- Earl Grey Tea. Man I love it lately.
- Daiya vegan cheese- the queen of all plant based cheeses. It’s helped this sad dairy-free mama cope.
- Unity in our home. We’ve had to fight tooth and nail for this over our 9 years together, and this year it just felt like we were finally rocking the unity train. High five, babe.
- Travel. When Em was firs born, even a five minute car trip was torture. But this year we turned a corner and now we’re living our best travel life. Which is selfishly awesome because traveling is my fave.
- Family Vacay. We took our very first family vacation this year AND IT WAS THE BEST. We stayed at Great Wolf Lodge and I would do it over and over again. Just yesterday, Ella asked me for a hug and kiss. And after I kissed her cheek she said, “I don’t know why, but your kiss just felt like Great Wolf Lodge to me.” And I will be crying about that for years.
- Date Nights. Because we have the most selfless friends in the world, we get to have a date night almost every Friday night. Just a few hours to unwind and be together, it changes everything.
- My Tribe. If friendship was currency I would be the wealthiest around.
- My girls growing up. I miss those chunky, smiley babies, but I just love the season we’re in.
- Game nights. My friend, my husband is the ultimate board gamer. And while he definitely tones it down for me, we’ve been having game nights lately that are a real blast. I’m so thankful for the gift of connection games bring.
- Blue Blanket. I have owned the most heavenly blanket since I was 11 years old. It’s heavy, probably because it’s the most 90s denim you’ve ever seen, but I don’t care because it’s perfection. If you’ve ever cuddled on our couch under Blue Blanket, you get me on a deep level right now.
- SO Delicious dairy free ice cream. Yaasss.
- My new craft hutch. You can expect a blog on that soon!
- Jesus’s kindness. He is so patient with me, and He always makes a way.
- New Girl. I freaking love New Girl.
- Podcasts. Since I’m practically an Uber driver for my girls, I’ve gotten into podcasts. Elevation, Churchome, and StoryBrand are some of my faves.
- Laughing with Nathan. We’ve just been laughing so much together lately, it’s my absolute fave.
- Cuddles. My 7 year old still asks for cuddles every night and I hope she never stops.
- DateBox. We subscribe to only 1 monthly box, and it’s the Happily DateBox. It’s such a blast!! I was a huge skeptic at first, but I just love it. Try it out, you won’t be disappointed!
- My friends’ kids. I just love getting to watch each other’s kids grow.
- The season we’re in as a family. I’m not sure what’s so great about it, exactly, but we’ve just been having such a great time together lately. I find myself feeling so thankful for even the messes and tangles and all of it. I’m just so so thankful for our team.
- The ins and outs of mothering. Emmy had a hard night last night, tossing and turning, and screaming at people in her sleep. Hours later, she started screaming for me. It took a lot of calming her down, bribing with snacks, and me “not doing her blankies right”, but as I crawled back in bed, all I could think was how big of an honor it was that she called for ME. It’s exhausting, motherhood, but it’s the greatest honor of my life.
- Dreams coming true with people I adore. There are so many dreams that have come true for our family and closest friends this year, and I am just in awe of how Jesus has worked so many things together for our good.
- This life that I am humbled is mine. I just love the life Nathan and I have built together, and I wouldn’t trade it for any other.
I love how giving thanks can instantly bring me into the Lord’s presence, and bind up wounds in my heart I didn’t know were there. When my soul is weary, and I lead it to the Rock that is higher than I, I am always restored by His presence. My hope for 34 is this: more of Him. More of His Word, more of His hope, and more of His dreams for my life coming true in ways my human eyes can’t even fathom.
Cheers, 34, let’s do this.