Today I made a #bestnine2016 photo collage, showcasing 9 favorite photos that sum up my 9 favorite things from this year. I shared it on Facebook, but I’d like to also share it here… maybe with a bit deeper insight into each photo.

Because today is a day for reflection, right? The last day of the year – to me – is for pausing to remember the experiences of the last 12 months, as we prepare to step forward into a new calendar year. So will you join me in a bit of 2016 storytelling? Here we go.

bestnine2016

1. Early in the year, Brett’s brother taught us how to make homemade Pel Meni. If you have never been to the Pacific Northwest, you’ve probably never tried these Russian dumplings, and let me tell you – you need to, because they are life changing!! It’s a meat-filled dumpling served with butter, hot sauce, curry, and sour cream. A-MAZ-ING. There’s one little restaurant downtown that serves this, but now that we know how to make them at home, we can have them anytime the craving strikes!

2. In the spring, I was in charge of planning and directing an event for the camp counselors and summer staff. It was a “Meet the Staff Night,” where kids and parents could come and meet the young people who would be working at camp that summer. This was the first event of this size and type that I’d ever been in charge of, and I was responsible for the schedule, logistics, role assignments and delegation, advertising, etc. It was a HUGE job, but I really enjoyed it, and seeing the evening play out smoothly and people have fun was extremely rewarding.

3. At church on Mother’s Day, the pastor asked all mothers in the congregation to stand, and had the children in the church take a single flower to each one. Even though I have a baby in heaven, I didn’t stand up since I’m not technically a mother here on earth yet. After church, a friend came to me and handed me the flower she had received, saying, “I want you to have this, because you didn’t stand up, and you should have.” It blessed my heart to have her acknowledge the existence of my baby and the fact that I am a mother.

4. For the third summer in a row, I got to spend time hanging out with this precious little camper. She has – unknowingly – enriched my life each time she has come to camp! I love seeing repeat campers grow up and grow in the Lord from year to year.

5. Isn’t it just the best thing when two of your close friends become friends with each other?! I love it! Chelsea is my sister-in-law and one of my best friends. I just met Pam this past summer and we were instantly kindred spirits. Both of their friendships were a wonderful part of this year! Seeing the two of them click was really fun, too! I had some other great girlfriends at camp this summer, too, and am thankful for every one.

6. The month and a half that Brett and I spent as Winter Caretakers at camp was just perfect. It was quiet, restful, peaceful, and recharging. We spent so much time together – some days too much time! – and the bonding and resting together was wonderful after a busy, busy summer. The first snow of the year happened while we were there – 6 inches on October 16th! This was also the month that I wrote my 31 Days series. That was a growing experience in itself!

7. In November, we took a road trip up north to visit Brett’s parents. To be exact, it was a four-hour ferry ride, followed by 2 days on the road through Canada and Alaska. What an incredible experience! I got to see parts of the continent I’d never seen before, and we had some great conversations in the truck.

8. Being reunited with my sisters is always a highlight! I love these girls to death and miss them so much. We had a good visit with my whole family during our week in Tennessee just before Christmas. I also got to spend time playing with my 2-year-old niece and meeting my newborn niece… priceless times!

9. This Christmas was our first just-the-two-of-us Christmas. It was certainly quiet compared to holidays with families, but we had a very enjoyable day. Spending our first Christmas alone together felt like a bit of a milestone! In this picture, we are having hot apple cider in front of the tree, about to open our gifts.

 

This year has flown by, hasn’t it, friends? To me it has passed in the blink of an eye. I’m grateful to have a few photos to memorialize some of the really good moments… though some of the best memories are conversations, laughs, expressions, feelings, moments that can’t be captured in photographs. How about you? What are some of your favorite memories from 2016? Feel free to share in the comments, and thanks for reading my list.

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