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.

The 2016 Highlight Reel.jpg

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.


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).


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).


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).


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.


Tina and I on a suspension bridge in Nepal.

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


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????

To Be Read: Summer|Fall|Winter 2016

There are approximately 90 books on my to-be-read (TBR) shelves (yes, shelves, plural, meaning there are more than one), not to mention the running mental list of 100+ TBR books. It’s really quite overwhelming; so many books, so little time. Sometimes it makes me a very downcast bookworm.

I have looked at these shelves and decided to selected a chunk that will be in my immediate TBR stack (yeah, different levels of TBR = #hardcorebookworm). I have no idea how long it will take me to wade through these 20-something books because I’m a slow reader, but wade through them I shall!!

And I decided I would share this list with you lovely peeps.


Okay, let’s start with the classics.


Emma by Jane Austen.

I cannot believe that I call myself a book lover and have not read this book. I know the story because there are some many movie adaptions, but I’ve never sat down and read the book myself (I know, we’re all appalled). I already love Emma, and so I cannot wait to finally check this baby off my list. (And, ladies, Mr. Knightley over Mr. Darcy any day of the week.)

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy.

This is another one that I’ve known about forever and have seen the movie (great movie, btw) but have just never read! Again, I’m already in love with the story and the characters, and so I think this will be fabulous read.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Yep. Another one classic I haven’t read (we’re barely scratching the surface of my classic illiteracy, just so you know). I’m ashamed of myself. I have no idea why I haven’t read this up until now. I read The Lord of the Rings and The Simarillion when I was ten, and then I took a seven year break from books in Middle Earth. Don’t ask my why. I don’t know. I adore Middle Earth. I don’t know what my problem is.

The Giver by Lois Lowry.

Now, I guess this doesn’t really go with the classics, but I think that it is almost a classic in that it is an early dystopian novel (don’t speak to me of 1984–I despise that book). I’ve seen the movie for this one also, and I was so pleasantly and delightfully surprised (unfortunately, it’s a severely underappreciated movie)! The ending didn’t do a ton for me, but I appreciate this story and the idea so much. It shall be grand.

More classics (aka: swanky-looking old books).


Five Great Dialogues by Plato.

Full disclosure: I don’t know if I can even handle this one. I will not be all that surprised if my brain can’t process it and shuts down. This is here mostly because I want to be able to say I read it (yep, being one of those and not ashamed of it).

The Odyssey by Homer.

Unlike Plato’s work, I have no qualms about this bad boy. Oh. *rubs hands together* This is gonna be good. I’ve already read The Iliad (lots of drama in that one), and clever Odysseus was one of my favorite characters (he actually acted like an adult unlike the majority of the people in that epic). While I’m not jazzed about him being separated from his family for so long, I am excited about his journey. Let’s do this!

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott.

My brother (this’d be Bro #2) read this several years ago and enjoyed it, and so it’s been on my mind ever since. Finally, I’ve found myself a pretty fantastic copy, and now it’s my turn to experience it.

Moving on. The Circle Trilogy by Ted Dekker.


First of all, yes, indeed. That is a little Lego Loki chilling in the pic of The Circle Trilogy.

This will be my first time reading Ted Dekker’s work, and so I’m pretty excited. I’ve heard this series is one of his best, and so I have great expectations (no, not the book–I don’t really care for Dickens *gasp*).

A touch of Orson Scott Card.


Typically, I’m not a huge science fiction reader (guys, I can’t help that fantasy is my go-to), but I’ve heard excellent things about Ender’s Game (it’s another movie that was severely underappreciated). Plus, I want to broaden my horizons beyond fantasy… as painful as it sometimes is… anyway, from what I’ve heard, Ender‘s Game is suitable first sci-fi read.

A miscellaneous stack (I don’t really know why I put these books in a stack).


Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.

My brother (this’d be Bro #1) read this this past winter, and he was raving (raving). And he doesn’t typically rave. I’ve heard the Laura Hillenbrand is an incredible writer (which is a high compliment from Bro #1), and I know some of the story of Louie Zamperinni. This one will be intense, I know, but I am raring to go.

Safely Home by Randy Alcorn.

Family members cried when they read this one. It’s the story of a Christian in China and the persecution he goes through. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’m excited about this one. I want to read it, but I’m not sure how I’ll feel about it. From what I’ve heard, I’ll learn a lot, but I think it’s one that wrings out your emotions.

Havah by Tosca Lee.

Havah is the story of Eve, and so I’m immediately drawn to this book because guys, Eve. It starts right after her creation, and from what I’ve heard of Tosca Lee, it’s exquisite. This will also be my first exposure to Tosca Lee.

The Help by Katherine Stockett.

I love the idea and strength behind this story. It’s about a young white woman  in the 1960’s who wanted to draw attention to how black women who were “the help” were treated in many families. I’ve heard that it’s well-written and powerful.

A selection of C.S. Lewis.


A Grief Observed.

I know next to nothing about this book, and I want keep it that way until the very instant I open it for reading. Basically, I’m reading it because it’s C.S. Lewis (C.S. Lewis, peeps), and I’ve heard people say that it’s a very good book. I honestly don’t even know if it’s fiction or nonfiction (shhhh! Don’t tell me! I want to be totally surprised by this book when I pick it up!)

That Hideous Strength.

This is the third in C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy (I read the first two books a few years ago), and I’m very jazzed. I’ve heard that it’s scary (from Bro #1) but so so good. So I’m gonna pick this one up pretty soon.

Till We Have Faces.

Oh my goodness. I think that I’m most excited about this one–maybe the most in this entire list–because it’s a retelling of the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche. It is probably one of my favorite myths, and I’ve heard people say that this book might be Lewis’s greatest work. I started it when I was fourteen, but then I didn’t have the discipline to finish it (don’t judge me, peasants; I was fourteen). So. This. Book.

The Screwtape Letters.

When I first heard the premise of The Screwtape Letters (a demon sending advice to another demon), I couldn’t get over the ingenuity of it. Ever since, I’ve wanted to read it, but it’s been coming on and falling off my radar for years. The time is now (or will be in the near future).

For spiritual growth.


A Journey to Victorious Praying by Bill Thrasher.

A friend who serves in full time ministry recommended this book to every member of my family, and he said it richened his prayer life. So, now I’m going to read it.

The White Umbrella by Mary Frances Bowley.

This book is about human trafficking. It was written to shed light on human trafficking when we typically try to not think about/ignore it and it’s bondage and horror. I don’t think there’s really anyway to prepare for this book, and I don’t even really want to read it. But I do I believe that it’s important, and that’s why I’m going to read it.

Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

Ah, Francis Chan. I read Forgotten God (also by Francis Chan), earlier this year, and it was incredible. I have heard so much good about Crazy Love for years, and so at last, I’m finally going to read it.

Embracing Obscurity by Anonymous.

Just the fact that the author takes this so seriously that he/she won’t have his/her name printed on the book made me pick it up and buy it. I’ve looked, and I can’t find any hints as to who wrote this book. This is about “becoming nothing in light of God’s everything”, and it is something I sorely need to learn. 

The Purpose of Man by A.W. Tozer.

A.W. Tozer was constantly coming back to worship–what it is, why we are to do it, etc.–and this book is the culmination of his passion. If worship is the purpose of man, then I need to be doing it better. Hopefully, this book will help me.

Follow Me by David Platt.

I read Radical (also by David Platt) last fall, and God used it powerfully in my life. I cannot wait to see what He does with Follow Me.

The Battle Plan for Prayer by the Kendrick brothers.

This book on prayer was also given to me by another family friend. I’ve looked through the table of contents, and I am more than impressed with the intentional, systematic way that this book approaches prayer–it’s importance, different kinds of prayer, different ways to address God, etc.. I am very excited to get into this book.

So that’s a bookend (I said bookend and not wrap because everyone says wrap and this post is about books so…)!

Those are the next 28 books that I will be reading for however long it takes me. 

What’s on your reading list? Do you have a TBR? What are you most excited about?