As Another Year Ends, Another Year Begins: 2015 Edition

Another year, another review…This is my annual tradition. I feel like my brain is to tired to try and remember a whole year but I will do my best to try remember further back than like a week ago 🙂

1. what did you do this past year that you’d never done before?

a. explored a cruise ship and watched my little brother get married! (jan)

b. flew home from florida with a 9 month old baby (jan)

c. did the costumes and props for Wizard of Oz at HHS (jan-mar)

d. helped Dan and the family survive chemo weeks (one week on, 3 weeks off) for 6 months (jan-june)

e. had our 6th wedding anniversary (apr)

f. celebrated Connor’s first birthday and completed my 365-photo-a-day project of Connor’s first year (apr)

g. met consistently through the year with our church small group/tribe (all year)

h. went on a mom’s vacation away with our small group girls (may)

i. went on the Delta Mission Trip to Denver (june)

j. spent a few days at a lake house with the family in Wisconsin (july)

k. started training for a 5k (july)

l. celebrated 1 year seizure free for Dan and Dan’s 1 year craniversary (sept)

m. ran the Chicago 5k with Dan and the ABTA Team Breathrough (sept)

n. celebrated the twin’s 4th birthday (oct)

o. spent a couple’s overnight in Chicago with small group friends and saw a Second City show (nov)

p. went to a Silent Advent Retreat (dec)

q. started Bible and art journaling (oct)

r. participated in the #write31days blog challenge and blogged for 31 consecutive days about a specific topic (oct)

s. started taking daily medication to help with migraines (nov)

t. started doing yoga at home (aug)

2. did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

“So…2015….my goals: I wants to keep reading more. I really loved it. I delved into some great stories and met wonderful characters and read books that got into my thinking and I loved it. So here’s to more of that! I want to keep journaling more and I find I do that best when I’m partnering with inspirational devos. I do want to blog more, about any and everything. Honestly, this year, I want to focus on my family and friends: develop deep relationships and be present. I want to make great memories and laugh and be there for others when times are hard. I want to continue to invest in myself because I’m a better mom, wife, daughter, friend, person–when I do. I want to keep focusing on God and see how He uses me and uses our story.”

How did I do…well I only read 7 books. That was less that half of what I read in 2014. I really wanted to read more than that. I added so many more books to my Kindle that I just didn’t get around to. That’s frustrating. The one’s I did read, I really did enjoy, but I definitely wish I would’ve read more.

However, I did blog more. Being a part of the #write31days was really cool. Yes, there were days I had to force myself to write. I had to be organized and really plan things out. But it made me think and be intentional and I really do want to have a plan for this space in the future. I would definitely like to do more with this blog in 2016.

Journaling and focusing on God has really been key for me this year…especially in finding art and Bible journaling these past few months. God has spoken to my soul in really cool and special ways. I have never thought of myself as an artist, but I am loving having art time with my Bible and delving into His Word and devotionals. It’s also helping me ensure that I’m journaling and really spending time on my soul and filling myself up when I end up feeling empty at the end of many days.

I also think I did pretty good at being present and developing good relationships. We dove into some great relationships with 5 other couples in our small group from church and these people are friends and our tribe. I love doing life with these friends. I’m excited to see where next year takes us.

I also wrote that I was excited to see how God used our story and it was really cool to see that start to play out this fall with our race! We were able to raise lots of money for the American Brain Tumor Association, do interviews for the paper and just get the word out there! Plus we’ve met people through really cool God-ordained appointments and I think He is not done with us, yet!

So goals for 2016: I definitely want to keep reading more this year! I love getting lost in other worlds and characters and I learn so much about writing from other authors and stories. I want to keep blogging more and blog more consistently and possibly do some more challenges. I want to stay really intentional with my friendships, family and personal relationships. This year, I also really want to focus on our marriage. 2015 was hard on us. We spent the first half battling chemo, every three months we face MRIs, and lately with work schedules conflicting, we don’t see each other very often. I would definitely like 2016 to include some time for us. And I think most importantly, I want to make sure that God is at the center of my life and our story. I don’t want to lose focus when the storms and chaos of life get me out of sorts. I want to keep my eyes on my Creator and dwell in His presence.

3. did anyone close to you give birth? yes!



Sarah Jane–Nynaeve

4. did anyone close to you die?


5. what countries did you visit?


6. what would you like to have this year that you lacked last year?

a. an idea of what God’s plan for my life is  (i think this will always remain) 🙂

b. more time with my babies and more time at home to invest in bettering myself (amen)

c. more money and less debt! (this is the same too. Since we’ve added house, I’d love to see other loans get paid off)

d. both twins potty trained!

e. a new roof…we found out this winter we’ll need a new roof soon and we need to magically come up with some $$ to make that happen. Not looking forward to that. ugh.

7. what date from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

a. Jan 3–Rob and Ashley’s Wedding on a Cruise ship

b. April 3–6th anniversary

c. April 4–Connor’s first birthday!

d. May 22-24–Mom’s Vacation Trip to the Farm

e. June 13-20–Delta Mission Trip to Denver

f. June 26–Dan’s last chemo dose (hopefully forever!)

g. July 3-5–Family Reunion in Williams Bay

h. July 22-25–Family Lake House trip

i. Sept 5–1 Year Anniversary of Dan’s seizure

j. Sept 15–1st Craniversary for Dan

k. Sept 27–Chicago 5k with Dan; after training all summer this was an awesome experience and I was so proud of us!

l. Oct 11–twin’s 4th birthday

8. what was your biggest achievement of the year?

Honestly, I don’t feel like I’ve achieved a lot this year. Especially lately. Right now, I just feel like I’ve survived and that’s my achievement.

9. what was your biggest failure?

I feel like a failure most when I succumb to my emotions and them rule me instead of staying in control. I get angry too easily and lose my temper. I get depression and stressed and worried instead of trusting God’s plan. My biggest failure is relying on myself instead of trust my Heavenly Father.

10. did you suffer illness or injury?

a. migraines really struck me down this year. Finally in November I went to a doctor and got some prescription medication that I am taking daily and as needed. The side effects are not so fun, but they are helping the headaches, so hopefully we’re finding some relief.

b. running brought on some epic shin splints for me. I discovered Kinesio Tape helped immensely.

c. not me, but dealt with constipation and poop issues with Ian visiting Dr. Mustafa and a Peds Gastro Dr and even regular Chiro visits for him!

11. what was the best thing you bought?

a. a new ipad mini

b. iphone 6

c. Dan’s “new” car

d. my Journaling Bible and all my art journaling supplies! This has been my “me time/me and God time” and it has been a life saver the past few months! By far, the best part of this fall and winter!

e. expanding my essential oils collection

f. got a 2016 weekly Simplified Planner!

g. Paying for our getaways this year was really special–family reunion in Williams Bay, Lake House, Mom Vacation, Jensen Girl’s trip to Chicago, Couple’s Trip to Chicago, our Race trip to the City, Silent Advent Retreat, trip to Florida for Rob’s wedding.

12. whose behavior merited celebration?

a. Dan – It’s been a long year, but a fast one. We survived. It’s honestly felt like we’ve tried to be as normal as we can. We would survive through hell of chemo week, then live normal for 3 weeks. Then repeat–for 6 months. This whole year we’ve been on repeat MRIs every 3 months. We say a prayer for clean scans, and and then live normally for the next 3 months til the next one comes up. It’s really hard to live a really busy life with 3 little kids and busy jobs and then try to deal with cancer on top of it. It takes a toll. But we’ve survived. I’m proud of him, for living this with Christ at the center and telling his story. I’m honored to be his wife and to walk alongside him and survive this together. One step at a time, one mile at a time, til we cross the finish line.

b. Our Parents and families – I’m brought to tears when I think of the amazing families that we are blessed with. I’m so glad that we have our whole families so nearby. To have our parents so close and ready and willing to help with anything is amazing. Having Kevin retired this year and able to help if something pops up with the kids or I’ve had a migraine, has been a lifesaver! Having Whitney and Erinn gone for much of this year was really hard on me personally–I miss my sisters so much when they are gone; so I treasure the times when they are home. Having Rob and Ashley and Amanda and Kyle super close in Chicago is awesome! And Ryan and Sam in a house in Roscoe is so wonderful. We are just incredibly blessed to families so loving and willing to help us and love on us whenever we need anything.

c. Our awesome friends – I can’t even begin to name everyone but I have been so blessed this year by friends near and far who have supported us through chemo, race fundraising, and just life. “Find your tribe; Love them hard.” We have loved getting to know our small group couples. Going on our momcation and couples weekend was really awesome. My sweet group of Mom Friends is still going strong and I would be lost without my amazing kindred spirits. I’m so blessed to also call my amazing co-workers awesome friends as well.

13. whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

No one really.

14. where did most of your money go?

doctor bills, mortgage, normal bills, life. Yay for adulting.

15. what did you get really, really, really excited about?

a. My baby brother getting married!

b. Connor turning 1! (sob!)

c. Momcation!

d. End of Chemo!!

e. Theatre! (Wizard of Oz at HHS, Last Five Years/Young Frankenstein/Mary Poppins/Memphis at Starlight, Beauty and the Beast at Coronado, Lion King in Chicago, Second City in Chicago, Sunday in the Park with George at the Studio)

f. Running the Chicago 5k and hitting our fundraising goal!

g. Bible journaling and Illustrated faith!

16. what song will always remind you of this year:

This is always so hard for me…

a. It Is Well (bethel music)…this is on repeat, like always.

b. Stand in the Rain (superchick)…I felt like this song described me to a T this year.

c. Blessings (Laura Story), River God (Nichole Nordeman), Held (Natalie Grant)…all from my Keep Breathing playlist

d. the kids all loved the “Whip and Nae Nae” song, including Connor and he would sing and dance and it cracked us all up!

e. “Mary Did You Know?” was my Christmas song this year. It just spoke to my soul on so many levels.

17. compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?

sadly, this is kind of a hard one for me to answer. This month has been really hard for me. I’ve been extra emotional–probably partly hormones but I think a lot of it has to do with the drugs I’m on for my migraines. With as much as I’ve been trying to depend on God and trust in Him, I’ve been feeling so drained and so tired and just so overwhelmed and worn down with all the things of life that it feels like I have to deal with. I don’t want to say that I’m sadder, but I feel very tired heading into this new year and I don’t necessarily like feeling that way. I’m praying God can miraculously change that.

18. thinner or fatter?

I haven’t gotten on a scale in awhile since ours is broken, though it seems like even when I do, the numbers never seem to move. However, this year I did try to get a little more healthy. I was eating healthier and exercising. Heck, I ran a 5k! I was doing yoga multiple times a week. I would like to continue running once it gets warmer out and would like to continue the yoga practices. One perk of these migraine drugs is that it does suppress my appetite (sometimes too much), so hopefully that is helping me shed some of the excess weight.

19. richer or poorer?

Right now, things are feeling a little crazy. With our van on the way out and the need for a new roof, those are two huge costs that I wish we didn’t have to shell out for. Plus, doctor’s bills are no fun to start the year with (Dan has his first MRI of the year AKA fresh deductible, next week). So right now, feeling pretty stressed. But God always provides and everything always works out. So I’m trying to remember that as I crunch numbers.

20. what do you wish you’d done more of?

a. blogging. I did the challenge in October, but other than that, I kind of sucked this year. I didn’t even keep up with posting my advent posts on Instagram this December.

b. getting together with friends. So much time goes by, so quickly, without me even realizing it. I have tried to stay better about staying in touch with my friends…but girl’s nights genuinely fill me up and i need to do them more often.–This! I just need to stay in touch with my friends more. Days and weeks go by and I realize I’ve drifted off into my own little isolated island.

c. reading. I only got through 7 books and I have so many good ones waiting for me on my kindle. I just want to be able to sit and read and art journal all day long!

21. what do you wish you’d done less of?

a. stressing (about money, jobs, family, life) this answer always remains…how come i never learn?? AMEN! 🙂

b. suffering from migraines. I’m hoping that they are finally getting under control with these new meds. we shall see.

22. how will you be spending your birthday?

29. I’ll be turning 30. I have no idea. It’s actually on a weekend so maybe something special. I don’t know!

23. how will you be spending the holidays?

as always, juggling all the families and trying to see everyone! Dan’s birthday is on Valentine’s and it’s a Sunday, so I’ll be working. And the end of the year holidays are always filled with insanity but so much love and fun!

24. did you fall in love this past year?


25. how many one-night stands?


26. what was your favorite TV program?

i know i watch a lot of tv…but i’m ok with that. it’s what I do to unwind

new shows this year: gilmore girls (i had never seen it–i watched the whole series this year and i absolutely ADORE it!!), blindspot, unbreakable kimmy schmidt

returnees: ANTM, parenthood, survivor, amazing race, community, grey’s anatomy, downton abbey, revenge, bachelor/bachelorette, pretty little liars, once upon a time, call the midwife, the blacklist, hollywood game night, modern family, castle, how to get away with murder, scandal, sherlock, west wing

Kids programs: we are currently watching lots of Thomas, and they love Mister Rodger’s Neighborhood so that’s fun

27. do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

i really try not to hate people; it’s just not nice.

28. what was the best book you read?

I only finished 7 books this year but they were all quite good! I started and ended with Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) Cormoran Strike Series novels: The Silkworm and Career of Evil–both were really good; The Nesting Place; Carry on, Warrior-Thoughts on Life Unarmed; The Girl on the Train; All the Light We Cannot See; and The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes.

I loved the Cormoran Strike mysteries–they were awesome and crazy and kept me on the edge of my seat. Girl on the Train was similar. I couldn’t put it down. Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes I flew through as well. It sucked me in and I just couldn’t stop.

All the Light was exceptionally well written and transported to that era so perfectly. I really enjoyed how it was woven together, though I’ve heard others not like it–so that could be my weird English major nerdiness.

Nesting Place was great for finding contentment in your current home.

Carry on Warrior was truly inspiring. I was highlighting things left and right. I feel like Glennon Melton is a kindred spirit and I want to give her a hug and sit at her feet and just chat because life is hard and she just gets that.

So they were few, but they were good!

29. what was your greatest musical discovery?

a. new worship songs were my jam this year between Red Rocks Worship and Bethel music

b. I listened to a lot of radio this year, so just the top hits on b103 were our jams…or just what the kids wanted to listen to

c. I also listened to my Keep Breathing playlist A LOT

30. what did you want and get?

a. a phone with more space on it!

b. clean MRIs every time

c. new car for Dan with enough seating for our whole family

d. journaling Bible

e. a fitbit charge

31. what did you want and not get?

a. to have Ian potty trained

32. what was your favorite film of this year?

a. Inside Out–took the twins to see this in the theater! So much fun!

b. Tomorrowland

c. Cinderella

d. One of my favorites was Last Five Years. I was so bummed I couldn’t see it in theaters but I really loved this movie rendition of one of my fave musicals. I know it all by heart but brought more to light and really made me love it even more. Loved it.

33. what did you do on your last birthday, and how old were you?

turned 29. Hung out at mom’s house after work with the family. Pretty chill.

34. how would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?

This year has been pretty relaxed. In the cold weather, lots of tunics, leggings, leg warmers and boots. In the summer, during our running season, lots of exercise gear–tanks and leggings, yoga pants. It’s been a pretty chillaxed fashion year.

35. what kept you sane?

a. my worship and “keep breathing” playlist

b. my husband…most of the time 🙂

c. my dear friends and family

d. my kids…they always seem to lighten my mood…snuggles and giggles, can’t ask for more–most of the time

e. my art and Bible journaling and devos…always seemed to hit just right

these are all the same this year! 🙂

36. which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

boys: Colin O’Donoghue (mmm…Hook on Once Upon a time!)

girls: ginnifer goodwin, jennifer lawrence, julia roberts, anna kendrick, Alexis Blendel and Lauren Graham, Candace Cameron Bure

37. what political issue stirred you the most?

I feel like I stayed out of politics this year

38. who was the best new person you met?

a. Nicole–I’m so excited and glad that she has been brought on to our staff and team. What a blessing she is to my family and to me. Love her so!

b. I didn’t really meet these ladies, but discovering Shanna and the Illustrated Faith team, has changed my faith journey. I know that I don’t personally know these women, but reading their blogs and seeing their posts each day brightens life and sheds new truths on what God is teaching me through His word.

39. tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015:

I think probably the biggest theme of lessons that I’ve been learning this year has been how to handle emotions and the valleys of life. I have felt very overwhelmed and like I’m barely surviving this year. And in order to get by, I essentially numbed myself. I knew I couldn’t give in to the overwhelming emotions of fear and anxiety, so I started to numb those in attempts to stay in control, which only led to numbing all emotions of my life. As I asked God to help me let go of my need to control, and give it all to Him, I felt the numbness begin to fall away. That meant having to face the emotions that sometimes feel extremely overwhelming and huge. Life can be exhausting with three littles and work and family and a house and bills and then throw in cancer and constant migraines and headaches.

My valuable life lesson is that God is always present–even in the valleys. They may not be the crazy hard days of 2014 with cancer diagnosis and surgery–they are the normal every days…the ones that you have to do every single day that start to wear you down until you think you just can’t do it anymore. God is walking with you through those days. You aren’t alone. He doesn’t want me to feel drained or overwhelmed or tired. He asked all the tired and weary ones to come to Him and He will give them REST. That is what I want to claim for 2016–REST. REST in my Lord. Hope in His name. Trust in His promises and truths. Rest in His peace.

40. quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

“It is well with my soul. Through it all, my eyes are on you. Through it all it is well. Let go my soul and trust in Him, the waves and wind still know His name. It is well with my soul.” –It is well (Bethel)

“Stand in the rain, stand your ground. Stand up when it’s all crashing down. Stand through the pain, you won’t drown. And one day what’s lost will be found, if you stand in the rain.” –Stand in the Rain (Superchick)


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