My Year Review: 2016

Happy New Year, everyone! In keeping with tradition, I’ve done another yearly review. (Here’s 2015 if you’re interested!) I love the freshness of the new year, but I also really love looking back. There’s so much to be thankful for, even in the challenges. I think it’s wonderful to remember and keep a record of what God has done.

Winter 2016

Last January Shiloh turned 5 months old. Malachi was almost 3 years old. Winters are always kind of rough for me. I walked at the mall at least once a week with friends to get out of the house and stay active on cold days. We also hosted several bands at our house.

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Shiloh’s first real snow.

My grandma Bernie passed away January 30th. We went to Indiana for the funeral memorial. It was inspiring to hear her life story. She was a pioneer for women in the church, as a lady evangelist – single and traveling by herself on Greyhound busses to preach to congregations around the country. I’m so proud of everything she stood for, and how she kept evangelizing right up until her death, even comforting the staff in the nursing home and bringing peace wherever she went. I’m honored to have known her, even though I never fully appreciated everything she did until more recently. She will always be remembered.

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Here’s my grandma with Malachi in October 2013.

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Spring 2016

I was still working at Trader Joe’s when I finally bought a bike! I had been without a bike for so long that I had to remember how to ride. It didn’t take long to build my confidence (and my muscles) though. I started riding to work at least once a week. It was so thrilling and fun!

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Spring was also when my postpartum depression hit its all-time high. Things like biking and running helped me handle it, but it was still a rough time. I’m so thankful for my support system and for God’s grace over me!

Malachi turned 3 years old April 2nd. He is certainly becoming a cool kid, and an excellent big brother to Shiloh. We’re so proud of him!

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My goal for 2016 was two run two races. I did that and then some. Two 5k’s (The Color Run and The Sparrow’s Nest) and my first 10k (The Race for Refuge.) I took 3rd place in my first 10k. I also did an un-timed 13.4 mile run in December. It was so much fun! Running is addictive in a good way and brings me so much joy! I love to challenge myself with new distances and times. Thankfully both boys love riding places in the stroller, so we get to do a lot of training together. I guess they’re my little teammates!

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My first ever 10k! I was the third woman overall. My fellow runner in the blue helped cheer me on when I started to feel fatigued. Women supporting women!

Summer 2016

This summer consisted of several little trips. Josh and I celebrated our belated 5 year anniversary late with a trip to Manhattan, Kansas. It was a relaxing weekend and we were able to do it really affordably! This is the trip when we went on a bike ride and decided it was time for me to quit my job at Trader Joe’s.

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My last day at Trader Joe’s was June 8th. I was hesitant to quit, but I knew it would be best for our family. My wonderful boss told people to dress up in cut-off jean shorts and drink green smoothies from mason jars in my honor. It was so cute! There was a cake and they decorated my bike before I left. I’ll always love that store and the people there so much. It was a good 7.5 years at that place!

Shortly after that, I joined a wonderful group of friends in their bike club. Since I no longer commuted to work, I needed a reminder to get out and bike. This is it! It’s been a really nice year riding with these guys. They welcomed me and met me where I was at skill-wise. It’s the perfect combination of knowledgeable bike people and friends who just know how to have fun. Could it be any better?

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Photo by Neil Das. (Yes, that’s ET and Eliot behind me!)

We went to Audiofeed Music Festival as a family of four for the first time. It was a fun but challenging experience with two kids. It rained this year and was kind of cold, but we had a wonderful time! Me and Josh got a bit of a workout carrying both kids around the festival! We loved the bands this year. We saw our old favorites – Comrades, Josh Garrels, Beautiful Eulogy, Propaganda, to name a few – and discovered The Hunts for the first time! Here’s my Audiofeed recap.

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So many friends, I can’t fit them all in this post!

In August we went to visit the Bruterhof Maple Ridge community in New York. We drove. With both boys. Through the night. It was about a 16 hour drive! But the trip there and back wasn’t as bad as it sounds. We listened to lots of great music, had good conversations, drank coffee (just me), and ate lots of snacks. When we got there, the community was everything we hoped it would be. We learned a lot about what it means to live in community, and seek God through dying to ourselves. I write more about my reflections here. Our host family fed us, watched our kids, and took fabulous care of us during our stay. I’ve never experienced such radical hospitality in my life. We feel like we made some lifelong friends, who are seeking God in such a tangible and incredible way. (Here’s their Instagram if you’d like to see more little glimpses into life in community.) We’re so happy we got to go on this adventure!

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The Hudson with our Bruterhof friends.

Shiloh turned one year August 17th! We are so thankful for this little guy and how he’s changed our lives! If I’m allowed to have a favorite age, I think the span of time from one to two years is very special. So much discovery is happening, and the child (usually) sleeps through the night. We are having a great time. Shiloh Mathias, you are so loved!IMG_1432.jpg

Fall 2016

This year I blogged consistently all year long. I shared on a lot of different topics, but The Huffington Post caught wind of my year-long clothes shopping ban in September. Before I knew it, my family was internet news. It has been a wonderful experience for our family to share our story of minimalism and frugality with a larger audience. I’m excited to see where this takes us.

This year I hosted several used clothing swaps, and even announced a frugal Buy Nothing Christmas Challenge. Even though my clothes shopping ban ended in June, I still haven’t bought anything new. I’m liking this new lifestyle change.

Shiloh learned to walk and Malachi taught himself to read some words. Both boys are doing well, healthy, sleeping through the night, and sharing a room. I’m glad they are such good buddies.

We also had some great house shows. The Hunts, who we met at Audiofeed was our biggest show to date. Over 60 people showed up! We only knew about half of them. We’re constantly reminded why we do this – there is no greater joy than serving others and opening up our home to be used by God for his purposes.

Speaking of opening up our home, we lived with several students this year. Muhammad and Imran stayed with us over the summer before moving on to other things. We loved being able to open up our home to these wonderful young men.

Me and Josh turned 28 and celebrated 6 years of marriage. I wrote more about that here. We’ve learned a lot throughout our marriage. One of the most important things is that we can’t expect the other person to “complete us.” Only God completes us and we need to take that pressure off of each other. I can honestly say that everything we’ve been through up to this point has only strengthened our marriage. Our relationship has changed tremendously these past six years, but it’s better than ever.

Winter 2016

We are currently hosting a new student from China for the holidays. His nickname is “Brown” and we’ve loved learning more about his culture. He’s been enjoying the Chinese supermarkets around our neighborhood and has cooked us some authentic Chinese meals. He even passed his drivers test to get a US license during his stay with us! We’ve had a great time together! We’ll be sad when he moves out.

 

Josh is still biking to work in the cold, which is awesome because it enables us to get by easily on just one car. He insists that he isn’t superhuman. He just knows how to bike in the cold.

We enjoyed a super frugal, super simple Christmas. I’ll share the details on that soon. In short, we simply said no to a lot of things we used to feel like we “had” to say yes to. It was really satisfying and special.

 

Goals for 2017:

How was your 2016? What are your goals and dreams for the year ahead? I’m excited to support all of you on your individual journeys.

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