The 2016 Highlight Reel

2017 is upon us, and 2016 is almost a thing of the past. So let’s go through part of my 2016 highlight reel.

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Flickering Lights.

Wow. I still cannot believe how well you all received that story. It was a wild ride, and I’m so thankful for all of you who took to the time to read about Marcus, Hermes, Winston, and Penelope. I’m most thankful to God for whispering that idea in my ear two years ago and make sure it actually helped some people. Writing and sharing Flickering Lights was a bit of a big deal for me this year.

Penprints.

We all bid the name The Fox Hole farewell when I renamed this blog in April. This blog shall forever more be known as Penprints. And I designed a fancy new header and put together a swanky color scheme as well. Because I don’t obsess over this blog at all. (I don’t even know why I’m including the name change in the highlight reel, but it’s late at night and my brain is sleeping.)

That time I could have died.

Yeah, July 6 was when I flipped a Ford explorer at least twice and walked away with three little scrapes, a minor concussion, and zero soreness. That was quite something; I didn’t drive for three weeks. I shared my thoughts on the whole experience in this blog post.

India and Nepal.

I had the privilege of going on a mission trip to India and Nepal this past fall. There were three other people on the team, and we held two pastors’ conferences—one in India and one in Nepal. Between the two conferences, over 220 pastors and their wives were encouraged and 40 kids got saved! God did incredible things (there’s probably a blog post or two coming on that).

Music-wise.

I was introduced to NeedtoBreathe by my brother, and their latest album (Hard Love) has become my heartbeat. Also, Casting Crowns (one of my all-time favorite groups) released a new album (The Very Next Thing), and if I’m not listening to Hard Love, I’m listening to The Very Next Thing. From Hard Love, I recommend: Money and Fame, Be Here Long, Testify, Clear, and Let’s Stay Home Tonight (so yeah, like half the album). From The Very Next Thing I recommend: Hallelujah, Oh My Soul, God of All My Days, For All You Are, What if I Gave Everything, and No Other Name (so, yeah, again, half the album).

Book-wise.

So, I didn’t read as much as I wanted to or should have (#storyofmylife), but what I did read was pretty fantastic. My top three picks from this year are Embracing Obscurity by Anonymous, Lit! by Tony Reinke, and The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. (If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed the many, many, many posts on The Screwtape Letters.)

I have much to say about them, and so I’ll probably write a blog post at some point. For now, I’ll tell you this: Lit! changed the way I view and read books as well as what kind of books I want to read (thank you, Tony Reinke). Embracing Obscurity dealt painful blows to my pride and gave me a better view of myself in relation to God (thank you, Anonymous). The Screwtape Letters blew my mind. Seriously, peeps, my mind was blown. Repeatedly (thank you, C.S. Lewis).

Also, I burned a book this past summer. I read it, and it was well-written. But it was too well-written. It normalized dangerous ideas about a girl’s value, and so I decided that I didn’t want to sell it or give it away because I didn’t want to perpetuate those ideas. So I burned it (also perhaps a blog post on its way about that).

Writing-wise.

I finished Flickering Lights and released it into the world (as mentioned at the beginning of this post). Then I laid my Cinderella retelling aside permanently, which was hard but so good. That story couldn’t be fixed.

And I thought a lot about Beasts (my Beauty and the Beast retelling). And I thought a lot more about Beasts. And then I thought about it some more. And I realized that it had about as much structure as a bowl of Jell-O (hint: none). So I did a draft two that was one hundred thousand miles better than the first, but it was still a hundred different shades of bad. So then I wrote an eleven page outline for draft three, and that is the beast (pun intended) I’m in the middle of right now. And I have a deadline rapidly approaching, but I’m not freaking out at all because I definitely don’t put the “pro” in “procrastinate” that’s absurd.

Remarkable people I had the privilege of meeting…

Alea Harper—she’s a lovely blogger I “met” early this year, and I so enjoy reading her blog.

Abigayle Ellison: another beautiful blogger I “met” whose sweet spirit I so appreciate (and, she has a book coming out this February).

The entire TeenPact staff team for the Wisconsin 2016 state class. I love and miss serving with all of them.

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The 2016 Wisconsin Staff Team

Tina, the wise, wonderful woman who went to India and Nepal with me.

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Tina and I on a suspension bridge in Nepal.

So many brave and beloved Indian and Nepali sisters in Christ.

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Anu, a godly woman I met in India.

Favorite Penprints posts:

The entire Flickering Lights serial (guys, I’m just so jazzed that this project is done!)

21 Signs he’s not the One (as seen in The Phantom of the Opera)–I laughed too much writing this.

44 Signs You’re Obsessed with The Out of Time Series. The year is not complete without copious Out of Time Series posts, and this was my favorite.

Why I Write (wherein I got all serious for once and talked about why I write.)

Advent: Christ the Lord. The closing post for advent was my favorite in that series.

And I think that’s it, peeps.

What about you? What were some of the highlights of your year? What’s your favorite thing that happened in 2016?

P.S. – I’ll be back on Monday to start 2017 off right with a blog post. ;)

P.P.S. – Go look up Wasteland by NeedtoBreathe because I basically listened to it on repeat while I wrote this post because it’s so amazing.

P.P.P.S. – Did anyone see that Secret Life of Walter Mitty reference????