Monday, December 28, 2015

1,000 Gifts // 2015 in Review

"There is a strange wonder that happens the minute we stop comparing our lives to those we perceive as having more, and instead begin intentionally appreciating all that we really have. We just tend to take all that basic, boring stuff for granted, but chances are we have all been blessed with gifts that many people don’t have. When we open our hearts just enough to see the blessings we’ve already been given, our whole worldview changes from one of longing -- to one of overwhelming gratitude and joy."

Two thousand and fifteen. Four seasons. Twelve months. Three hundred and sixty five rotations of the earth. Mercies new for each day. A good God weaving each strand into His master tapestry. Joy and sorrow, happiness and pain, grace upon grace. He who promised is faithful.

The year began surrounded with family and friends, staying up late, playing games. Eating Swedish pancakes on New Year's morning, more family time, more games, the everyday stuff that memories are made of. Then I was off to Texas. Five days, five dear friends. Two days in Houston with Leah. The first time we'd seen each other since we said goodbye in the Seoul airport in 2013. Scouting out photo shoot locations, eating Pad Thai and coconut ice cream, seeing her new house. Three days in Dallas with Carissa, Hannah, Wallis, and Haylee. Dear friends (thanks, IPS) who love Jesus, missions, and photography. We shopped, baked, explored, and mostly just enjoyed each other's company. After Texas, it was a quick turn-around and I was on a plane again, this time for a long weekend in California. Driving the Pacific Coast Highway with Dan, Nikkia, and Jordan. Soaking up the sun and salt air. Watching the sun set over the ocean, picnic lunches, playing Mille Bornes, watching movies, eating homemade ice cream. February rolled around, and Michigan stole my big brother. I escaped a little more of the Minnesota winter with the family vacation to Florida. Sunset on Key West, games of cribbage and Boggle, spring training baseball, naps on the beach. March brought a trip to Michigan to visit Dan. Just Mom, me, and Ruby. Lighthouses, antiquing, exploring. Watching Ruby running the sand dunes like a crazy dog. Fields and fields of tulips. April marked the start of baseball, and with it came a trip to Chicago to watch the Twins play the White Sox. A weekend in the Windy City with Andy, Dan, and Marie. Parking snafus, Navy Pier, deep dish pizza, walking miracle mile. Spring came and with it graduations, softball, the Cinderella movie with the girls, game nights with Danielle (how fun it was having her live in Minnesota this year), Ella's drama (she's a natural!), the Spring Swing Tournament - money raised for House of Grace, family BBQs, girls nights with mom. Days spent with little people (I've said it before, but I couldn't ask for a kinder family to work for), finishing my job at the hospital - how I miss seeing those sweet little baby faces. In June I was off to Bearing Precious Seed for two weeks. Assembling Bibles, crossing the border, evangelistic meetings, watching people respond to the Gospel. Back home to enjoy some lovely summer days. The weekend at Bri and Dana's cabin - possibly my favorite weekend of the year. Skiing, tubing, fireworks, s'mores. Out on the lake until the sun sets. Enjoying just being together. Strawberry picking, cornhole tournaments with friends, a bike ride on the fourth of July, the yearly lunch and pedicure with mom. Dan's surprise visit home and the first whole family dinner in six months. Celebrating mom's birthday together as a family, softball, and enjoying every minute we could all be together. And then the adventure of the summer - off to Ecuador! Three weeks in South America working with some of the sweetest kids I've ever met. Drinking Columbian coffee on the Equator, watching children respond to the Gospel. Otavalo and the AIDS orphanage. Hard lessons, deep truths, reminding each other that God promises to work everything for good. Camp week. Line ups, trips to the beach, capture the flag, campers getting saved. Tears, hugs, hard goodbyes, coming home. The annual camping trip with the girls. A beautiful summer day, swimming, cooking over a campfire, sleeping in a tent. There was a baby shower for two dear friends, Valley Fair with the family, Dan home for the last two weeks of summer. Running, softball tournaments, Twins games, the State Fair. Days spent with family - a gift that has become more precious than ever this year. Summer slipped into Autumn and new adventures. The trip to New York with Mom for Joanna's wedding. Making pies, hanging bunting, photographing a gorgeous celebration. The quick trip to Vermont. Then there was the Passion4Christ Summit. Reuniting with photography friends, Ecuador teammates, and a brother. Solid teaching, good conversations, fabulous volleyball, and wonderful times of worship. There were more game nights, new babies, family nights, spontaneous lunches with an aunt and cousins, running errands with Mom, sleepovers with the girls. There was photoshoot after photoshoot this fall - I truly love what I do. There was the new internship with Global Encounters, coffee dates with friends, days spent baking and cooking. Turning 25. A quarter of a century. Then there was Thanksgiving with the whole family, and the bustle of the Christmas season. Light tours, working in the kitchen with Mom, wrapping gifts. A brother home, more precious family time. Late night games, and dinners, rock climbing, movies, and Christmas morning joy. And now, back to Ecuador. Watching in amazement as God worked out every detail of the trip. Anticipating the work He will do while I'm here.

Truly, He who promised is faithful. He cannot not be. Even when we don't see it, He is working for our good. 2015 brought lessons that made me hold fast to this promise. He is good and does good. Always.

3949. Hot cocoa with peppermint and marshmallows
3950. Church on the radio
3951. Time with Dad's family
3952. Holding a cousin's little baby
3953. Christmas dinner at Fogo de Chao
3954. Family around a table
3955. Reminiscing
3956. {The sound of our breathing}
3957. Back scratches
3958. A tree trimmed
3959. The annual viewing of The Nativity Story
3960. "A Messiah for the lowest of men to the highest of kings"
3961. {He who is mighty has done great things for me}
3962. {Behold, your King is coming to you}
3963. {I will raise up for David a righteous branch}
3964. An afternoon off work
3965. Candy Land popcorn
3966. TV mix
3967. {Just drop the blanket}
3968. Rock climbing with the cousins
3969. Half-price apps at Applebees
3970. Mockingjay movie with the Strommes
3971. Presents under the tree
3972. Sleeping in
3973. Packing suitcases
3974. An afternoon of games with Dan and Mom
3975. Jeopardy competitions
3976. Last minute kitchen prep with Mom
3977. Dutch Blitz with Mom while the boys were gone
3978. The traditional viewing of "It's a Wonderful Life!"
3979. {He comes to make His blessings known, far as the curse is found}
3980. A dusting of snow
3981. Together time
3982. Swedish pancakes for Christmas Eve breakfast
3983. Christmas celebration with the Mensinks
3984. Playing games with Grace and Luke
3985. {Behold the Lamb of God}
3986. Christmas Eve service
3987. Another trip to the movie theater
3988. Candles in the windows
3989. Playing Clue on Christmas Eve
3990. {Glory to God, His salvation is near}
3991. Christmas morning
3992. The whole family around the table
3993. Opening up gifts
3994. {Hear the angels as they're singing, on the morning of His birth...}
3995. Playing spoons
3996. "Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared and the soul felt its worth"
3997. Listening to the little girls sing Christmas songs
3998. Charlie Brown Christmas
3999. Watching Sherlock Holmes movies, just like old times
4000. {This I call to mind, therefore I have HOPE...}
4001. A fresh blanket of snow
4002. Quimby Family Christmas
4003. All the cousins being together
4004. Playing the dice game
4005. The hope of Christmas


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. ..."you really (do have) a wonderful life..."

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Wow, I love the video! I hope to do something like this at the end of this year. Thank you for posting about your year, it's nice to learn a little more about you!
    I hope you have an amazing 2016!