This past year was a year for the books, I think. From surviving our first Wyoming winter (which was not as bad we’d expected, although it was longer than we anticipated), to learning new skills and growing in ministry roles, discovering latent talents, exploring the west, and beginning our deputation adventures, 2017 has been full in every sense of the word!
I discovered how fun it is to snow-shoe and hike in the Rockies, how enjoyable it can be to teach God’s Word to children, and how much I absolutely LOVE doing art. I took another seminary class on my (long, drawn-out) quest to earn an M.A., tried watercolors for the first time (and loved it), practiced lettering on an almost-daily basis, celebrated 10 years of marriage to my best friend, spent a week exploring Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, visited loved ones and explored other national parks across the country, studied the modern Word-Faith movement in depth, and made (some) progress in writing my next book. Not to mention that, in the past 4 months we’ve been in 25 states (yes, TWENTY-FIVE!), with stops to visit or explore in half of those. I guess we’ll qualify for high-mileage this year!! 😉
Needless to say, while I made progress on my goals for 2017, I didn’t quite accomplish everything I had hoped . . . and yet, I did way more than I expected. God has been so good and merciful!
What isn’t listed in all these “accomplishments” and milestones is the wonderful relationships He’s allowed us to form with new friends in Utah and Wyoming, people who have invited us into their hearts and truly become our family (I’m looking at you, Randolph and Kemmerer people!). I love that little corner of Wyoming and Utah more than I ever thought possible!
God has also given me the wonderful gift this year of improved health — partly due to the clean air and dry climate of the West — and allowed me to regain almost “normal” levels of activity! It is wonderful to be able to stay busy with life and ministry and, though I still need to pace myself, I’m loving every day that I can live life to the fullest.
And He has given us greater vision for the future! On the one hand, He continues to direct us toward a church-planting ministry in the unreached regions of Cache County, Utah. There are so many possibilities there for connecting with people and sharing the Gospel, and we can’t wait to get started! He’s also given me a vision for using His precious gift of artistic talent, for ministry and perhaps even for income. In fact, I’m working behind the scenes to completely revamp my website and open an online store for both ebooks and art pieces. I can’t wait to see how God leads in those ventures throughout the new year!
But, even though it was a year for the books, it wasn’t a great year for the actual books. I completed 52 books (and mostly finished a few others), but I failed to complete my #Read2017 category challenge. There were a few categories I had titles picked out for, but I ran out of time before my seminary class started in October. I also re-read a few fiction series while we were traveling, which aren’t on the list. If you want to see how it “stacked up” (pun intended), check out the full list. For the complete reviews, check out my Goodreads shelf or view them on the blog.
Some interesting observations from #Read2017:
- For the first time, my number of nonfiction books (26) outweighed the number of fiction books (24), and one-third of those fiction titles were actually based on real-life people or events. Apparently the more I read nonfiction, the more I actually start to prefer it.
- My favorite genre this year was history (or very-true-to-life historical fiction), especially as it related to my other interests such as Christianity or regional exploration (Church History 101, The Story of Christianity, Empire of Shadows).
- I made progress in my goal of reading all of Tolkien’s work, by completing Tales of a Perilous Realm and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. I also made progress in learning more about the Puritans and exploring some compilations of their works (Valley of Vision, and Voices of the Past), and I see many more Puritan titles appearing in my future!
- I was most surprised by how fun it was to read a graphic novel representation of Dickens’ Great Expectations (not particularly one of my favorites in its original format), and how many topics could be considered “current events” other than the usual political or economic things.
- My top 5 favorites for the year were: The Gospel Primer (Milton Vincent), What’s Best Next (Matt Perman), 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You (Tony Reinke), No Man’s Land (Simon Tolkien), and Tales of the Perilous Realm (J. R. R. Tolkien).
- My top five recommendations for YOU are: Nothing to Envy (Barbara Demick), What’s Best Next (Matt Perman), The Gospel Primer (Milton Vincent), All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr), and How to Read a Book (Mortimer Adler).
Because I’m taking more grad classes in 2018, and planning to continue traveling for deputation, I’m choosing not to pick a specific reading challenge for next year. However, I plan to work through many of the titles on my to-read list (here and on my nightstand), and will continue sharing short reviews every month or two. I hope you find them helpful!