2016: Looking Back

A few weekends ago I started the process of cleaning “2016” off my computer and onto external hard drives. I’m reminded of C.S. Lewis who said “isn’t it funny how day by day, nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different?”

2016-looking-back

As I looked through memory after memory, I couldn’t help but be grateful for the year that was. Memories of family times at the cabin, or just on an ordinary Thursday. Memories of adventures to see friends, of breath-taking landscapes. Memories of literal mountain-top experiences, foreign countries, and little faces I will never forget.

So without further ado, here are my top 12 memories of 2016. In chronological order, because to rank them in any other way would be nearly impossible.

1. January 2016 {Starting the new year in Ecuador}
A New Year’s I will never forget. I remember our team was in Casa del Padre playing a game of spoons, when we heard the fireworks start. We went outside and the whole valley below us was being illuminated with fireworks and floating lanterns. We spent New Year’s Day shopping at the market in Otavalo, drinking coffee at one of my favorite coffee shops, and playing volleyball. The next week we camped in Southern Ecuador and ministered in a small village. Being able to encourage the Pastor who is doing a remarkable job of reaching a largely unreached group of people was a blessing.

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2. March 2016 {Wanschura Family Vacay}
It’d long been a dream of mine to take a road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway in California. My family had taken a California vacation when I was 5, so my memories of it were very limited. The beauty of that stretch of our country didn’t disappoint. From watching the sunset at La Jolla Cove in San Diego to my first glimpse of the fog-shrouded Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco, it was a perfect family time in every way.

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3. April 2016 {Roomie Reunion}
The worst part about making friends all over the country is that it makes hanging out on a Friday night kind of impossible. Thank goodness for frequent flyer miles, long weekends, and a bestie who says “don’t worry about packing much, you can just use my stuff”. Hanging out with the Emrich girls (I’ve now officially roomed with all of them of various occasions) was a blast. Outlet shopping, Sight and Sound Theater, trying (and failing!) to take “candid” photos, exploring Gettysburg, and just hanging out.

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4. June 2016. {Leah’s visit + Canada Trip}
That whole part about friends who live all over the country? Going and visiting them is cool, but it also makes you feel pretty special when they come and visit you. Leah and Aaron came in June and we did all the Minnesota stuff. Ate at Cossettas, went to Lego Land, went canoeing on Lake Calhoun. And then we took an 8-hour road trip up to Canada for Andrew’s wedding. Fun stuff.

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5. June 2016 {Dad + Mom’s 40th Anniversary weekend at the cabin}
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again…it’s arguably my favorite weekend of the year. Boat rides, tubing, late night games, laughing, reminiscing, my favorite people. This year, a surprise visit from Dan and celebrating Dad and Mom’s 40th. What could be better?

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6. July 2016 {Ecuador: Take 2}
It’s hard to believe I actually got to do it twice in a year. The summer trip was hard – long days, rambunctious kids, getting sick, and working through team issues. But it was also really rewarding. Little moments when God would encourage you, prayer time with my roomies, seeing camp kids from last year, and coming away with some friends, who by this point, feel basically like family.

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7. July 2016 {Meeting Guadalupe}
A special blessing of the summer Ecuador trip. Seeing that tiny little person in real life, who you’ve only known through letters and photos.

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8. August 2016 {Camping trip to Michigan}
We introduced Ella and Whitney to road-tripping this summer. Lots of bathroom breaks, snacks, and books on tape were involved, but we made it out to Michigan to camp with Dan for the weekend.

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9. October 2016 {Andrew and Rachel’s Wedding}
It isn’t everyday you have a brother get married, so this was kind of a big deal. Their day was perfectly beautiful in every way, and getting to hang out with family + having one of my best friends fly in to photograph it, was simply fabulous.

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10. October 2016 {Michigan: Take 2}
I got to fly out and spend a long weekend with Dan after the wedding. It was in the middle of my super busy season with photography, so it was so nice to be able to relax a little bit in the midst of that. Plus, we got coffee at cool shops, did some shopping for his new apartment, and he took me to some of his favorite haunts.

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11. October 2016 {P4C Reuniting}
I’ve attended P4C three years now. The teaching is always a great encouragement, but if I’m being perfectly honest, a big reason I go is to reunite with friends.I staffed in the kitchen this year, so it was fun to see the other side of it. Volleyball + Nutella parties + late night chats + some of my favorite friends. I think that’s the definition of the perfect weekend.

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12. 2016 {Random, life moments}
If you’ve followed my previous blog, you know I’m a fan of the little moments. So number 12 goes to those Saturday morning races, or Monday night softball, or Friday afternoon lunch. Those little moments that we often take for granted, but are in reality, the stuff that most of our life is made of.

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2016. Another year. Another folder full of memories tucked away on a hard drive. Another 365 days of experiencing God’s faithfulness. Because He is always faithful. He is always good. He is always working. As sure as the sun will rise, His mercy will not end. 

This Is Life: 9/11/16 6:56 PM

“To all the secret writers, late-night painters, would-be singers, lapsed and scared artists of every stripe, dig out your paintbrush, or your flute, or your dancing shoes. Pull out your camera or your computer or your pottery wheel. Today, tonight, after the kids are in bed or when your homework is done, or instead of one more video game or magazine, create something, anything. Pick up a needle and thread, and stitch together something particular and honest and beautiful, because we need it. Thank you, and keep going.” Shauna Niequist