2018 Reviewed

“Everything old people say about time is true.
For starters, it flies.
No matter how many pictures we take,
no matter how many moments we invade with a rolling camera,
we cannot grab and hold.
Our futile struggle through time is courtesy of God’s excessive giving.
Sunset after sunset makes it hard to remember and hold just one.
Smell after smell. Laugh after laugh.
A mind still thinking, a heart still beating.
Imagine sticking your finger on your pulse and thanking God every time
He gave you another blood-driving, brain-powering thump.
We should. And we shouldn’t. Because if we did,
we would never do anything with our living,
we wouldn’t have the time to look at or to savor
any of the other of our impossibillions of gifts.”
N.D. Wilson

2018 was a full year. It was brightened with many moments of joy and friendship and laughter. “Impossibillions” of gifts is a good term. How could all the good moments possibly be counted? Scattered through 2018 were moments that I’d rather not remember. Moments of confusion and frustration and hurts. But looking back, without a doubt, grace was woven through it all. Here are some of the highlights.

CALIFORNIA + HAWAII

 

My friend Lydia and I spent five sun-filled days on Oahu in January. I know that Hawaii is one of those hyped up places, but it absolutely lives up to the hype. We kayaked, snorkeled, even tried our hand at surfing, ate good food, watched the sun rise and set over the ocean, and remembered the lives that were forever changed on a peaceful Sunday morning in December 1941. We got some bonus days in California on both ends of the trip, and were able to visit several good friends.

 

JAMAICA

 

In February, I took Mom and Dad on their first international vacation. Life takes a slower pace in Jamaica, and the people there are incredibly kind and welcoming. We opted for the non-traditional Airbnb and rental car over staying at an all-inclusive resort, and despite the crazy driving (we swore we’d never complain about a road in the States again), we felt like we got more of a “real life” experience in the country. One of the days we spent zip-lining over the jungle, tubing down a river, and jumping off cliffs into some of the bluest water I’ve seen.

 

MICHIGAN

 

I was able to visit Dan for a quick weekend in April. We browsed an art show, planted succulents at a terrarium bar, did some hiking, and spent time with his “Michigan family.”

 

WASHINGTON D.C.

 

May started out with an epic girl’s weekend in Pennsylvania, D.C., and Virginia. It had been over a decade since I’d been to D.C., so I was definitely excited to go back and tour a bit, but it was of course the company that made the weekend memorable. It was so much fun walking through Fredericksburg’s charming downtown, touring D.C., taking in a Nationals/Phillys game, picnicking at the lovely grounds of Maymount Estate, staying up late, laughing long, and enjoying actually being in the same place.

 

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND

 

May ended with an unusually warm Memorial Day weekend. Our family pulled off the 9th Annual Spring Swing Benefit Softball Tournament, and spent the rest of the weekend filling up water balloons and having water fights.

 

BABY WYATT

 

July was an oh-so-happy month. My nephew Wyatt made his debut- such a perfect little boy. Baby snuggles are the best.

 

CANADA CAMPING TRIP

 

July also brought a Thailand reunion in Canada. A weekend camping with some of my favorite people. We cooked our own food, went swimming, hiking, and paddle boarding, drank lots of coffee, and had a grand time.

 

COLORADO

 

In between weddings in August, I snuck in a quick meet up with Dad, Mom, Ella, and Whitney in Colorado. I managed to make it to the top of the Manitou Incline, and take in a few sunrises at Garden of the Gods. We toured the Olympic Training Center, rafted down the Arkansas River, climbed rocks at Garden of the Gods, ate custard from Colorado Custard Co., spent too much time in gift shops, and drove through Rocky Mountain National Park. I even talked Dad into bungee swinging over the Royal Gorge with me. Even though it was a short trip, it was a good one. A person should never go too long without having some mountains in their life.

 

WISCONSIN WEEKEND

 

Right after Colorado, I drove to Wisconsin to visit my sweet friend Rachel, who was there for her brother’s wedding. Although the visit was too short, it was so fun to see her and catch up on all her travels.

 

CABIN WEEKEND

 

We had our annual cabin weekend later this year, because we wanted our newest family member to make the trip too. We had perfect weather for swimming, tubing, skiing, wake boarding, and hammocking.

 

LABOR DAY WEEKEND

 

Labor Day weekend was a blast because Lydia finnnalllly came to visit Minnesota. We went up to the North Shore and did some hiking along Lake Superior, spent a morning in Duluth, paddle boarded at Lake Calhoun, got ice cream at Milk Jam, and I even got to introduce her to the Great Minnesota get-together, and the wonder of food on a stick.

 

GIRLS CABIN WEEKEND

 

I took a weekend off of shooting weddings in the fall to spend a weekend with some friends in North-Western Wisconsin. Even though it was cold and cloudy most of the weekend, we still did a little hiking, canoeing, and even a quick jump into the lake before running to the sauna. We cooked good food, watched chick flicks, and played games. It was such a welcome break from work!

 

EAST COAST IN THE FALL

 

When your bestie tells you she has airline points that are expiring, and asks if you want to visit her, the only answer is “when”? It was such a perfect autumn weekend…beautiful colors, a corn maize, coffee shops, hot apple cider, and the best sort of friends.

DALLAS WEEKEND

 

The only downside to our Wisconsin weekend was that we missed Ben Rector’s Minneapolis concert. That didn’t stop this group though, we packed up for a whirlwind weekend in Dallas. We drove down to Magnolia Market in Waco and spent a sunshine-filled day at the silos. Saturday we walked around a few outdoor markets in Dallas, ate In-N-Out, and then watched Ben put on a great show.

 

EVERYDAY LIFE

 

Ice skating, skiing, and building snowmen. Paddle boarding on and walking around Minneapolis lakes. Baseball games. Running. Volleyball. Lunch out. Afternoons with friends. Family dinners. Life isn’t perfect, but it sure is beautiful.

 

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“The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”  C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

 

Going into 2018, I had three big goals: write more, read more, save more. I seem to only be able to do two a year, so unfortunately the “write more” didn’t happen as much as I would like. I’m planning on catching up on blogging over the winter, though, so hopefully in 2019, I can get better at that. But, I was happily successful on my other goals. I was able to read 17 books this year (okay, I did get Audible late in the Summer, so some of those were audio books, but still…). Some favorite titles were Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi, Irena’s Children by Tilar J. Mazzeo, They Say We Are Infidels by Mindy Belz, A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War by Joseph Loconte, The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, and Behold the Lamb of God by Russ Ramsey. Though different genres, I noticed simliar themes woven throughout the stories, both fictional and real. One person can make a difference. Light always conquers the darkness. The redemption story is played out over and over again on stages across the world. We will always be longing for the day when all wrongs will be righted. All good themes to carry with me through 2019.

 

 

An Afternoon at Maymont

 

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“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think.
It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” 

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On our last day together in Virginia, we packed a picnic lunch, and had a delightful afternoon wandering through the gardens at Maymont. It reminded me of being in Europe. The day was delightful, and the gardens were beautiful. It was the perfect way to spend our last day.

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A Day in the District

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When you have friends who live less than two hours away from Washington DC, that’s where you plan a girls weekend! We had such a fun day walking around, looking at monuments, taking pictures, and of course frequenting the local coffee shops. We ended our day taking in a Nationals vs. Phillies game at Nationals Park. What a perfect day.

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Hawaii: Part 3

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Obviously, high on the list when we decided we were going to Hawaii was making a stop at Pearl Harbor. Just like when I walked the beaches of Normandy, as I looked at where a fleet of American ships were docked on a peaceful Sunday morning in 1941, I found myself wishing I knew more of their stories. More of the history behind what happened. And so very grateful that throughout the years, men have bled and died so I can live in a free country.

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Hawaii: Part 2

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The beaches we went to were so beautiful. The water was crystal clear, and changed colors with the color of the sky. My favorite was the North Shore – 7 miles of gorgeous beach front.

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We went kayaking one afternoon

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If you ever have the chance to surf; do it!

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There have been times in my life when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often, I find myself wondering whether, in my heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else. C.S. Lewis

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Our last day, it was rainy in the morning, but so worth it, because this huge rainbow appeared!

 

 

Hawaii: Part 1

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You know those places that everyone talks about? Either because they’ve been, or because they’d like to go? Hawaii is definitely one of those places. With all the hype it gets, I wondered if maybe it was overrated. Public Service Announcement: it’s not. When we were stuck in Ecuador last summer, my friend Lydia and I started plotting our annual winter adventure. She threw out Hawaii as an idea, and we ran with it. It was so much fun to explore this beautiful state for a few days.

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This was the view from our AirBnB
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Our first morning, we did the Pill Box Hike

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One of my favorite meals in Hawaii…SO good
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Tantalus Lookout was a favorite spot. It was such a cool view of Honolulu and Diamond Head

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Thursday we did Diamond Head Crater. It was so windy at the top!

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The last night in Hawaii we got dressed up and ate at a restaurant that was surrounded by beautiful gardens

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