One last look back at 2016.

I am a believer.. one of those who thinks January 1st marks a symbolic change, a fresh set of 365 days for letting the old things go and looking ahead to the new in hope. In that spirit, I thought I’d end 2016 and welcome 2017 by taking a look back at the milestonic (I think I just made up a word) moments of 2016 and waving goodbye to them. It was a peaks and valleys kind of year with some of our most intense joys and struggles to date. In chronological order-ish, here are some of the things that stick out, with mostly unedited, mostly crappy iPhone photographs to go along..

1. Zion had emergency brain surgery. His shunt malfunctioned and had to be replaced. We almost read the signs too late, and this one act would send me into a tailspin of fear and borderline panic for most of the rest of the year.

2. WE MOVED! we sold our house in the city to buy an old house 30 minutes out of town, built in the 1800’s with a bit more space and freedom for the kids in a historic old-town neighborhood.

3. we worked of months on end turning this house into a home. paint, flooring, plumbing, and more paint.

4. we commuted back to the city daily for the first few months of our life here, so the boys could all finish their years up in their city schools.

5. we got chicks and raised them to be big, happy, real laying hens.

6. Micah went to his first middle school dance.

7. Zion turned 5.

8. Micah turned 13, a rite of passage, and a day filled with some happy tears.

9. Tyler turned 11 and he, Micah, and Jeremy went to Harry Potter Land in Florida.

10. We went to the lake house a couple of times and made wonderful kayaking, fish-catching and gutting, late night star watching memories.

11. Zion started having seizures and was admitted to the ICU for the first time in years. We stayed in the hospital for nearly two weeks until his team of physicians had agreed on a treatment plan and it was safe to go home. He continued to have seizures every three days or so, for several months until they got him on the right medication. These seizures often ended with our little one not breathing, with CPR, and an ER trip & hospital stay. This was, by far, the hardest year our family has ever had because of this constant need to be “on call” to respond to an emergency, and the potential that any day we could lose him. I cried a lot this year. I prayed a lot this year. I numbed a lot this year in helpful, and mostly unhelpful, ways. It was such a hard year living in this land of the unknown.

12. I marveled as I watched how this experience bonded our boys together more than ever before, and as we caught little moments like this happening.

13. We continued our podcast.. a bit and our social media fast.

14. Jeremy and I celebrated our fifteen year wedding anniversary.

15. We hosted countless houseguests, including friends from the city, beloved friends and family from out of town, and photographers who came to stay for small in-home workshops. I think our overnight houseguest count for the year lands somewhere around 36 people!

16. We spent many summer days at the pool.

17. Zion started Kindergarten at a regular elementary school.

18. We started homeschooling the older boys for the first time ever. It’s an up and down road and we aren’t sure how long it will last, but I’m thankful we won’t ever have to wonder “what if” about this venture. We’ve watched them take on greater responsibility around the house and watched their imaginations thrive with their free time. They also joined band up at the middle school. Micah began learning percussion and Tyler, trombone.

19. Zion attended his first baseball game and so we attended our first Royals game as a full family.

20. Our work took us all over the country for weddings, many Jeremy without me while I stayed back in the hospital or at home keeping an eye on zion’s health. In the late fall, with Zion’s health stabilizing, we were able to go to Sweden and speak as the keynotes at the Way Up North conference.

22. We got a puppy! Right after Thanksgiving, Fifer Wicket became our first family pup, and has filled this home with a lot of joy.

23. A few weeks before Christmas, I flew to Ireland for a handful of days. My nanny (my mom’s mom) passed away, and I went to be with my mom, help with funeral arrangements, and say “goodbye” in honoring my nanny’s passing. It was a very dear time, and I’m so glad I made the trip.

24. We celebrated our first Christmas morning in this house, and it was perfect. For the first time since moving in, it truly felt like our home. (see last post for some pics of the Christmas magic.)


I’d encourage you to take a moment and jot down your milestones. It helped me see all the joy for what it was and be able to let myself mourn the hard things, too. I think it’s a great end of the year exercise. Here’s to 2017! Looking back at 2016 I’m thankful for the good, experiencing grace in the memories of the painful, and moving forward with hope for what lies ahead.



* much thanks to our dear friend, Nate, for the b&w images in numbers 2, 9, 15, 22. 

show hide 4 comments

ash parsons Andrea, thank you so much for those kind words! please do keep in touch anytime! xo, ashJanuary 5, 2017 – 2:21 pm

Andrea Thank you for sharing…as always… you have inspired me more than you will ever know xJanuary 3, 2017 – 3:08 am

ash parsons kelly, thank you so much. your empathy and kindness is a gift to me even now. xoJanuary 2, 2017 – 8:43 am

Kelly Oh, Ash. Those photos of Zion in the hospital hurt my heart. You are strong and brave.January 2, 2017 – 12:14 am

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