2016 – the year in review


2016 — What a year! In short, we got married, moved to North Carolina, took a ton of road trips, read a lot of books, cooked countless meals in our tiny kitchen, cried a lot, laughed a lot, hurt a lot, and though I can’t see the harvest just yet, I have hope that we are learning a lot. We look forward to 2017 with a lot of expectancy. In March we are moving to Blacksburg, VA and we are SO. EXCITED. It is one of our favorite places on earth. We can’t wait to attend A’s uncle (who married us)’s church. We can’t wait to have amazing hiking trails and mountains all around us. We can’t wait for A to work at a no-drive-thru Starbucks right in the middle of downtown. We can’t wait to find a little house and get a dog. We can’t wait to meet new people and cultivate relationships we have there. (And I can’t wait to get out of Cary ;)).

I always ease into the new year really slowly. I take a long time processing the year behind before I jump into intentions for the new year, and one way of doing that is highlighting as much of the good and fun and wonderful that 2016 held. There was so much weightiness and still is so much hardship, but here’s to all the lovely and beautiful:

Favorite road trips: 

~ Chattanooga, TN. In January, Andrew and I went to Chattanooga with a group from his uncle’s church in order to see first-hand this concept of a collaborative space within a church context (aka a coffee shop/ church gathering space/ event location/ amazing). The folks in Chattanooga and the friends we made on the trip were life-changing for us and we are excited to see how this passion and vision will manifest itself in Blacksburg!

~ Columbus/Cedarville, OH. In May we drove to our old college stomping grounds to watch and cheer for some dear friends who graduated, and bonus: I got to hug 3 of my bridesmaids all in one weekend. Then we spontaneously drove to Columbus and went to a 12-person Jenny & Tyler concert and took a selfie with them and it was simple and sweet and perfect.

~ Blacksburg, VA. We try to take a trip here at least every season. We went camping in the spring, took a trip in the fall for the launch of The River Church’s new space and A led a really fun latte lab, gave ourselves a fall break for a few days, and we are going up once more this month before our MOVE!

~ Richmond, VA. GINA AND JAKE GOT MARRIED. And we danced and laughed under so many sparkling lights. There was so much love, so many reunions, so much goodness. It was a taste of heaven, I tell you- and I don’t use that phrase lightly!

~ Knoxville, TN. ALL the Stovers, ALL the Hobbs, ALL the Hursts, plus me & Andrew together under one roof at last. It was so much fun.

~ Newark, DE + Haddonfield, NJ. Right after Christmas, we drove up to Delaware to have Christmas with my family. Since my sister and brother-in-law still had to work, Andrew and I took a little drive to NJ and surprised my favorite best college friends on the planet. I was reunited with my best friend who lives in Austin now, we had a big dinner with cousins + aunts & uncles, had an all-morning-long brunch with my high school friends, and stayed up way too late each on our last night drinking wine and eating pizza. Closing out the year surrounded by my favorite people couldn’t have been more perfect.

Favorite books: 

~ New Seeds of Contemplation; Thomas Merton
~ The Wingfeather Saga; Andrew Peterson
~ Dinner, A Love Story; Jenny Rosentrach
~ Seven; Jen Hatmaker
~ Julie and Julia; Julie Powell
~ Tender at the Bone; Ruth Reichl
~ Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl; N. D. Wilson
~ Spiritual Depression: Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones
~ Connecting; Larry Crabb
~ A Severe Mercy; Sheldon Vanauken
~ The Yearling; Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

   Devotional / Daily Readings: 
~ Behold the King of Glory (Lent); Russ Ramsey
~ Behold the Lamb of God (Advent); Russ Ramsey
~ The Divine Hours; Phyllis Tickle
~ The Songs of Jesus (Psalms); Tim Keller

Favorite meals/ things we cooked:

~ Mexican lasagna
~ perfecting meatballs
~ twice-baked black bean sweet potatoes
~ burrito bowls in spaghetti squash
~ quinoa black bean sweet potato chili
~ buffalo chicken stuffed into sweet potatoes
~ cranberry walnut goat cheese kale salad
~ summer stir fry: shrimp, corn, zucchini, squash, fresh parm & basil
~ “poor people” pad thai
~ butternut squash soup

Favorite + meaningful songs:

~ Be Kind to Yourself, Andrew Peterson
~ You are the Avalanche, John Mark & Sarah McMillan
~ Let it Happen, United Pursuit
~ Come Ye Souls (Look to Jesus), Indelible Grace
~ Come and Get Your Love, Redbone
~ Old Wineskins, The Collection
~ Smooth Sailin’, Leon Bridges
~ This Cup, Sara Groves
~ Heroes, Amanda Cook
~ All Things Rise, Vineyard Songs
~ Hopeless Wanderer, Mumford & Sons
~ Come as You Are, David Crowder
~ You Will Hold Me Fast, Keith and Kristyn Getty
~ You Have Redeemed My Soul, Page CXVI
~ Steadfast, Sandra McCracken
~ The Silence of God, Andrew Peterson

Christmas songs: 
~ The Light Came Down, Josh Garrels
~ Handel’s Messiah, Jenny & Tyler
~ Come Thou, Long Expected Jesus, Page CXVI
~ Advent Hymn, Christy Nockles

Favorite Memories: 

Our first family picture with EVERYONE.
Coffee & cheese plates on wedding week!
Surrounded by our favorite people on the night before our wedding.
Honeymooning in the mountains!
The camping stage of move-in days
Our first home!


House-warmed with these precious ones.
Brothers + Husband in our home. They love each other.
Don’t know where we would be without these two!
Our girls got graduated!
Walking through our old favorite trails
post-run kisses
our first camping trip was a total fail but totally memorable…
We did a lot of this in the summertime
Breakfast on the beach in Norfolk, VA on my birthday!
Ethan & Kelly’s Wedding!
E&K’s wedding pt. 2 — lots of love ;)
Family Dinner Crew forever!
M&M came to see us for thanksgiving!!
All of us!!!
We surprised them and hung out in a park all day.
Our first Christmas tree!
We said goodbye to 2016 and welcomed 2017 with these precious, wonderful, dear friends. (Featuring: dysfunctional husbands).


Whatever my God ordains is right 
His holy will abides 
I will be still whatever he does 
And follow where he guides.
Whatever my God ordains is right 
He makes my feet to stand 
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine 
He holds me in his hand.
This bitter cup, I take it 
My fainting heart restored 
So here I stand, unshaken 
I trust upon the Lord. 
He is my God though dark my road 
He holds me, I shall not fall 
Whatever my God ordains as right 
To him I leave it all.
Sweet, sweet Comfort.
Sorrow shall depart.

{sandra mccracken}


“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”
Psalm 27:13

& now for some reflecting and goal-setting!

Happy new year, all!


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