I normally write these lists at the end of the year to remind myself that life is vast and good things happen for me. I still am doing it for that reason– perspective– and I still believe in more good to come into my life and be long-lasting. I love this project and I love being alive, and all the potential everywhere for good.
I am also aware that this year, I lived some hopes, then got crushed. And it was really hard for me, and I kept going back and forth about whether I’d share this year because I am still speaking back to the discouragement it gave me. But I so believe, still, in a good that will come and stay. What is coming is even better than what is gone. So I’m sharing, and hoping you’ll be reminded of how vast life is, too.
I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I already have. This year, more than ever, I have felt so loved and supported by Him, and safe with Him, because I know He isn’t disguised good– He’s freaking good. I’m only going to see the truth of that more and more in the new year, and in the years to come.
Here are 85 ways I saw it this year:
Developing photos and scrapbooking them | Filling more journals
I managed to keep up a monthly scrapbooking habit all year and really enjoyed it. There weren’t always a ton of photos, but I would make a little list of what happened that month and decorate the page with any mementos I had, too, so usually it still turned out cute. I keep those monthly scrapbooks in my everyday journals; I’m on my third one for this year. I’m so, so grateful for journaling and the processing space it provides, as well as the important reminders it can give.
Reading more books | Reading more fairy tales
I did read a few great books (such as Boundaries and Between Heaven and The Real World), but I’ve also learned that it’s okay to not be filling my brain constantly. I honestly used to be a glutton for insight and would go to books looking for direction and specific ways to make specific choices, and it wasn’t healthy. Life is a little simpler than I thought, in a weird way. I’ll touch on that a bit later.
As for fairy tales, I found a vintage Beauty and The Beast picture book with the most interesting, almost psychedelic illustrations and really enjoyed it.
Going to more concerts | Meeting people I admire
I got to see Mat Kearney and Andrew Belle early in the year, two of my absolute favorites I was trilled to see not only touring together, but also coming to my hometown! They were both wonderful. Mat and I have the same hometown, and at one point he roasted every high school in the area; he was so fun and incredibly talented, an inspiring performer. Also, Tyler Burkham (of the original Audio Adrenaline, one of my favorites growing up!) was playing guitar in his band and I was starstruck.
I got to say hello to Andrew afterward, and I was such a dork about it but he was super kind; his performance was beautiful and his welcoming spirit was, too.
Other concerts I got to see this year– Rend Collective (always fun), Tedashii, tobyMac– were at a free festival in the park I went to with my mom. I attempted to go to a show that got cancelled, too, but let’s not dwell on that.
Holding babies | Watching fireworks
I got to hold a sweet and chatty baby at my family’s 4th of July barbeque this year.
Coloring with children
I do the scheduling for the preschool room at my church, so sometimes I have to fill in when no one else can. Do I like working with kids? No. But do I make friends with humans of all ages? Yes. And coloring with my four and five year old friends every once in a while doesn’t ruin my life.
Finding a job I enjoy | Getting better at projecting my voice | Having a great answer to the dreaded “what do you do?” question | Being able to pay for things | Having solid interactions with kind strangers | Becoming braver at making conversation | Feeling more skilled in things I feel like an amateur in
I lived at home unemployed for almost three years, because I thought God had asked me to. But after learning about His voice and His goodness, I realized He couldn’t have, not in the way I thought He had and not for the purpose I thought He’d shared with me. I still was a little scared and doubtful, but I started applying for jobs in February and asking Him to bless what would be good for me. I got hired at the local movie theater at the end of April. I was at the point where I would have worked nearly anywhere if they’d hire me, but I am so grateful that He blessed me with the movie theater. It has stretched me in so many ways and given me so many gifts. It changed my life, truly. I genuinely enjoy the work most of the time; interacting with customers is sometimes tough but often I just really like seeing the image of God in everyone. And I get to be around movies (and see them for free), and my managers are great people who actually care about me, and a good handful of my coworkers are fun to talk to. It’s a good job. It has made me more bold and well-rounded; I care less about how awkward I might me, and more about connecting with other people. God gives such good gifts.
And: I got a second job in July. Out of the blue (to me), my pastor asked if I’d consider interviewing to be his new secretary. So I did, just to see where it could go. Apparently he hadn’t been talking to anyone else; I was a specific choice, and I’ve been part of the team ever since. It is so fulfilling to be part of the work we do at this church. If you told me last year that I’d be a church secretary and love it, I’d think you were annoying and a liar. I didn’t think I’d return to institutional church period, let alone end up working at one and truly supporting (and being supported by) it. It’s wild. Having two jobs is tiring and not what I want long term, but the fact that I like both of them does not slip by me as a huge gift. I am so grateful that God is so good.
Owning my own car | Having confidence in going places on my own | Driving in tree-filled areas during the fall
I applied for jobs not knowing how I was going to get there. If I had to hitch rides, take the bus, use my first paychecks to simultaneously pay for rideshares and save for a car… I just had to start doing something. So when I got my job at the movie theater, told my dad about it, and he said they’d give me their car and get a different one, I was so grateful (and a little annoyed that this plan had never been communicated to me, but mostly grateful). I love my little 1990 Camry. I love the opportunities having it gives me, to try more things and to grow in my independence.
Getting better at painting | Setting up outside and painting | Having painting parties | Having craft days with friends | Making greeting cards for friends | Painting pumpkins
I don’t have as much time to paint as I used to, but I still feel like I’ve grown and found my style a little more this year. I favor watercolor because it has been my main medium for so long, but I’m starting to really enjoy acrylics and understand how they work. In this season of my life, the thing that gets me to paint is usually setting aside a specific time to do it with a friend. It’s so fun and gives me some breathing room, and even if I don’t have an idea it pushes me to come up with something. Shout out to Rachel and Sierra for the art days, and to my grandma for the paper flower crafting day.
Heather suggested my pumpkin design this year and it was so fun and turned out adorable!
And my Christmas cards were fun to letter and doodle; I’m obsessed with using white pen on dark backgrounds lately so I embraced that.
Writing lyrics | Writing about some of the big things | Finding new things to write about | Writing poems that express what I want them to
A few years strong on writing almost daily poems, and it is such a helpful practice for me. It lets me express and process, and it helps me stay creatively exercised. I would have honestly crumbled without it this year; it let me say things I was afraid to say to anyone else. Sometimes it ends up being a song instead, which always delights me; a few anthems came out of me this year. In the new year, I’d like to be more intentional and focused about songwriting. It’s the most exciting thing I get to do; it feels like I’m aligning with myself the most when I make music.
In terms of blogging, I’ve kind of learned that life is a bit better when I focus on believing the truth I know and when I am less of a symbolism-seeker. This space has become more of a check-in for me to share things I’ve learned more slowly and deeply, things I think are vital for others to carry with them, too. This year, I blogged about what I learned about God’s goodness and the nature of healing, and about the process of recovering from porn addiction.
Going on a road trip | Traveling to places different from where I live | Attending the weddings of dear friends | Exploring quirky shops
My cousin Jillian got married in Poulsbo, WA this year and my family spent a few days in town for the wedding. Their union is one of the loveliest I’ve witnessed. Getting to traverse the area a little was fun, too; I tried pickled herring at a euro pub, so there’s that.
I also got to attend the weddings of a few other sweet friends: Kaitlyn and Drew, and Carlie and Trey. I love these couples and the examples they’ve set for others.
Hiking a calm little forest trail | Sitting by the lake in the summer | Visiting the coast | Having bonfires with good people
One of the best days of the entire year. It was so dreamy and fun and I felt alive, not in an adrenaline junkie way but in a warm and content way. Sierra and Weston invited me to tag along on a coast trip with a few of his friends; we got along so well, laughing and sharing thoughts and dreams. We sand boarded, swam for probably a mile in a like, hiked barefoot through an unmarked forest for over an hour because Weston swore the other lake was just through the trees, were wowed by a magical water lily cove on the other side, made s’mores on the beach… and it just felt like thriving. So grateful for the reminder that days like that exist.
Meeting people who will be significant in my life | Feeling noticed in the best way | Going on a date to the movies | Knowing someone is in love with me | Holding hands | Being half of an adorable couple
I did not expect to live these hopes this year, but I did. I went on a date (my first, actually) in the winter that didn’t go anywhere, which was sad but okay and taught me about how I want to approach dating. And then, at the end of the spring, I met my first boyfriend. I hadn’t been looking for him, but he showed up and showed me love with candor, and time and time again the Lord assured me I could just be grateful for the gift of him (and of mutual feelings, which I’d always struggled to even understand the existence of before because I’d never experienced it) and take it moment by moment. It was a joy and taught me so much. We didn’t end up making it, and it was sudden and heartbreaking to end things. But with every month that passes, I am more assured that nothing about it was a mistake– not dating him, not breaking up, not even still being a little sad about it sometimes. I’m grateful for what we had, and grateful we ended it when we did. I know the Lord is still looking out for me, and working all things for my good. I’m where I’m supposed to be.
Holding adorable little animals
My pastor’s cat adopted me this year and I’m obsessed with her. I also got to visit my Uncle Terry and Aunt Maxine, and cuddle with their sweet dog.
Finding a true church home
This was another hope I didn’t expect to see, especially not at this point in time. I thought it would take years of searching and endurance. But at the end of last year, after spending a year without a church because I’d left a toxic one, I felt so alone. I rarely got to leave my house, so any interaction outside my family was rare. I didn’t want to go to church, not after I’d undone a lot of the negative work they’d been part of in me and I was now fighting to believe the real gospel truth about Jesus. But I needed a community.
The only church I was able to go to because of my transportation situation was down the street from my old one (which my family still attended). I was too afraid to go by myself, so my mom went with me. I observed everything cautiously and critically… and couldn’t really find a red flag. So I came back. And I kept coming back. And I joined a small group, and so did my mom. And now we’re both members, and I work there, and I’m still kind of amazed. Sometimes, we really have to seek the good; other times, God knows we’re too weary to go through that. Grateful that He knows me and seeks my good for me.
Seeing friendships grow deeper | Hugging people I love | Running into people randomly | Observing the quirks of others | Having conversations that make me laugh every time I remember them later| Seeing how people decorate their houses to suit their personalities
Most of the people closest to me are people I’ve kept close for a long time; when you find good ones, ones who are loving and loyal and present, you treasure them and you hang on to them. But I’ve also found some pretty special new people at my church and my jobs. I’ve always believed I could make friends with people across the board, but I’m finding how true that really is. I get to be part of lives from various walks and I love it. I’ve got some great people in my life; they’re the best part of it.
Seeing my best friend again and going on a random adventure with her
Going to a concert venue and seeing an “event cancelled” poster on the door is an adventure, all right. But we made it work; we always do. And while we’re 0/2 for going to concerts together (I know– how?!), to quote Sierra that night: “At least this time our lives are good.”
Learning an instrument | Being able to closely observe people play piano so I can learn chords better
I started taking piano lessons in November, the first since I was nine years old. I simply googled piano teachers in the area and started messaging the one I found. Now Nancy is such a treasure to me; she gets so excited for me and is personally invested in my growth so that I can pursue songwriting. I can’t wait for the day we get to put my words to music, or for the day I thank her in my album liner notes.
Seeing meaningful new movies | Watching movies with dear friends | Seeing new Pixar movies | Seeing my favorite actors in great new movies | Seeing new Marvel movies
Infinity War came out this year so that’s all I really need to say. That movie was groundbreakingly incredible. Ooh, but Mission Impossible: Fallout came out, too, and not only introduced me to the franchise (much too late), but also instantly became one of my favorite movies. And shout out to the spy movie night I got to have with Meigan and her parents (who will never stop bringing up the fact that I used to think they were spies, but that’s fine)!
Getting letters from people I love | Writing letters | Getting packages in the mail
I love it when a bit of joy comes right to my door.
Flying in a plane | Having tea parties
I visited my Aunt Cheri and Uncle Rob in Washington state this winter, which was cozy and lovely. We went to a bed and breakfast for high tea one day and had a great time together.
Discovering more musicians I’ll cherish | Growing more associations with albums and seasons of my life | Unexpectedly hearing songs that sweep me
I discovered just how much I adore Phil Collins, firstly. But newer artists I liked this year include Joseph Tilley, CASS, Lennon Stella, and Scott Mulvahill. Some amazing albums dropped this year, too, and I made this Twitter thread about them.
Wearing more pretty dresses | Wearing meaningful jewelry | Getting better at doing pretty eye makeup
I got a dress that looks like a picnic table cloth and I wore it to everything this year. In general, I started to look a little more like a grown up; people now guess I’m 19 instead of 17, so we’re getting there (I’m 24, y’all).
Having a smart phone | Getting a new camera
Again, I didn’t expect this to happen this year! But everyone in my house is working now, so we went in together on a family plan. It’s so helpful to have communication, maps, and a camera always handy. And my relationship with social media has definitely changed (I left Facebook this year), but I still generally have fun with it.
Owning a bunch of cute, special mugs amassed over the years
When my family puts the tea kettle on, they ask how much tea I want by naming the various mugs. “Do you want an Elvis amount of tea?”
Making food for people | Baking and decorating a lovely cake
Baking my favorite carrot cake recipe for Easter is something I’m fine turning into a tradition. I’ve also kind of perfected my tuna salad recipe and make it weekly at this point.
Watching sunrises and sunsets
On my drives home from work in the warmer months, I’d get on the freeway ramp and see the sunset and just say “thank you.”
Taking family car rides to the small town like we used to
I needed it that day. I wanted it, but didn’t ask for it, and I was heard anyway.
Having guidance for the next step
One of the biggest lessons of this year was that God does guide me, but often it’s through the sound mind and loving principles He’s given me. He lets me choose, supports me, protects me, assures me. For the most part, I’ve stopped being so desperate for insight, and instead try to focus on Him and honoring Him in whatever choices I face. We’ve complicated it, when He’s made it simple. I still forget that, and revert to my old patterns often. But now I know and aim for a truer, better way.
Having another birthday | Having friends over for holidays
I classically have made too big a deal out of my birthday and been disappointed by the fact that it’s a mostly ordinary day. The past few years, I’ve lowered my expectations. And not in a sad, defeated way, just in a way that lets me embrace whatever comes. And, in keeping with what I’ve learned this year, I also started putting forth efforts to make what I want to happen a reality. My birthday was a really fun day this year– I lettered a sign for the coffee shop in our church building, and I had Sierra over for tacos. Pro tip: don’t make pudding with coconut milk, it won’t work.
Having a cat that likes being a sweet companion
We’ve had Dusty since she was a kitten, and she’s fourteen now. She used to be mean and avoidant, but old age has softened her and she’s actually cuddly and somewhat friendly now! I love her to bits.
Drinking strawberry lemonade | Eating a doughnut
It’s the little things. Also, my brother works at Walmart now and he buys discount doughnuts to share sometimes, love him.
Sierra graduated with her BA in history this year, and Abriannah graduated from high school! Love these warm, kind-hearted, powerful women I’m so grateful to call friends.
Redeeming old places with new memories
There are definitely times to leave old places in order to take care of yourself. There are also times you can’t leave yet, and you have to do your best to make it a livable place for now. I had to do a lot of the latter this year. And honestly, I killed it.
I started writing lists of things to look forward to when I felt like my life wasn’t going to have any of the things I hoped for. I wrote them so I could reframe my thoughts from depression to anticipation. I didn’t expect that when I started doing these yearly intakes, it would encourage me so much to see that I do live dreams and life is very much something I’m lucky and grateful to have. I’m going to keep writing them and going through them each year, and I so encourage you to do something like this if you also struggle to view your life as vast and promising. I’m proof it is. And I can tell you right now:
You are, too.
The lists these items are from:
And I’m over hallway done with a fourth.