So Long, Last Year


In January I started my first full-time job, and my last semester of undergrad.

February 1, I turned 21 (also, I am completely unashamed that my birthday is my favorite day of the year. Please send gifts.).

In March I rode my bike 7 miles to work with my helmet on backwards (yes, it was embarrassing that I didn't notice till I got to work), ate my first ever maple bacon donut (highly recommend), and picked out a wedding band.

In April my Grandma, who I loved very much, met Jesus face to face for the first time.

In May I sat in a crowded auditorium with 3,500+ people, 300-some of whom were also wearing funny black dresses and flat hats. I walked across the stage (without tripping, might I add), received a diploma, SHOOK HANDS WITH THE PRESIDENT (of the school), and became a college graduate. I also got my first speeding ticket (whoops).

In June I went to Idaho (once) and Indiana (lots of times), got a cover for my book, saw my childhood best friend for the first time in years, made an imprint for publishing my book, got in my first bike real accident (nothing broken, just bent and shaken up), and went swimming at the beach most days on my lunch break.

In July I became a wife, went to Massachusetts, and moved into a corner apartment in downtown Chicago. I also published the eBook version of The Cup.

In August I became the proud owner of a vacuum cleaner, a trash can, and a Kitchenaid (three things that officially make you an adult). I also got one more brother-in-law (Woot Woot!).

In September I changed my last name (which you know is a lot of work, if you've ever done it), got a new pair of running shoes, and started being creative again.

In October I published the paperback version of The Cup, and Curtis bought me a subscription to the Wall Street Journal.

In November we gave thanks to God for the past year of blessing, and five days later the sprinkler head in our apartment exploded and ruined our living room (The Day There Was(n't) a Fire).

In December the brake lines on our car went out, Curtis finished exactly half of his undergrad/grad school career, we celebrated our first Christmas together, and we bought a hamster (on a whim, because we could, and he's small and fluffy and very cute).

It was one of those milestone years, where every time I turned around something big was happening. Some of it was easy. Some of it wasn't. Looking back now, I see how all of it turned out good. Outside of my personal sphere, the world also experienced a lot of change. Some of it was good, some of it was bad, and much of it was very very hard.

Over our Christmas break, we went to see Rogue One. Critique of the actual film aside (it was decent, but there was minimal character development, which was a bummer), there were at least a half-dozen previews before the feature film began. Almost every single one was about humans fighting aliens, humans fighting super-villians, humans fighting crime, humans fighting other-worldly forces, but always, humans fighting. 

I had an epiphany: everything fights humanity.

Because we fight back.

We fight crime, we fight things that are bigger than us, we fight hurricanes and earthquakes and fire, we set ourselves up against insurmountable odds. We do it without question, because it's what we do (like eating and sleeping and hitting snooze).

We live in a world that is littered, left and right, with the evidence of sin trying to win, but we haven't given up. We fight because we are not programmed to back down, because we believe that there is good and it is worth fighting for. We fight because Jesus Christ fought first, fought the urge to choose the easy route, and gave himself be brutally murdered so that we are not doomed to losing eternally.

Humans are the chosen enemy of every fictitious and fantastical world, because we are the only ones who will oppose them, who will stand and deliver in the face of impossibility, who will get knocked down and get up, again and again and again. Humanity is, to the avid warrior, the best opponent, because the human spirit has unquenchable resiliency in the face of insurmountable odds. 

We keep on fighting. Because even when the tunnel is caving in, even when it's dark outside and the stars can't make it through, we cannot just give up. We have to keep trying, even if the victories are infinitesimal, even if it's one step forward, five steps back.

I'm not given to profanity, but 2016 was a h-e-double-hockey-sticks of a year for a lot of people. Really, every year is. But it was also full of hope, redemption, and little kindnesses.

And God was gracious, and let us live in His green world, day after day.

2017 might be a piece of cake. Or it might be even worse. History proves that every year has the bitter and the sweet, intermingled throughout. 

Either way, we'll keep fighting for the better, fighting because God made us to be full of courage, not fear. We fight because the landscape of eternity is much larger than we can even imagine, but what we do still matters.

We are fighters, and even after a year that knocks our wind out, we'll take a deep breath and surge into the next one.

It will be delightful, and there will be delicious moments and snapshots we'll treasure forever. 

It will be brutal, and sometimes we will wish to crawl into a large cave and hide forever.

It will be 2017, and we will fight to live it better than we lived 2016.

It's what we do.