19 December 2016

2016 in Memories

I kind of think 2016 is the year I don't want to remember, but that would be terribly unfair to the year itself. The great thing I've discovered, going through blog posts from the past year, is that my writing style naturally tends to leave out the worse memories and focus on the good and adventure-worthy, so, actually, reading through the blog was helpful in reminding me of all the good instead of making me dwell on the not-so-good of earlier in the year.

A year-in-review post is tradition, and this is how I'll say goodbye to the blog till 2017.


This year started off in a way I'd never yet rung in the new year--while in a metro train station in Singapore! We counted down along with the disembodied voice over the loudspeaker and kissed at midnight, and greeted other late night travelers who were ringing in the new year on the train.

Here's the post that describes how we spent the first few days of 2016 in Singapore, Angel's very first, and so far, only, visit to that nation:

Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and A Ferry


February doesn't stand out too much in my memory of the year, although this year we had a Leap Day, which is pretty awesome, am I right? I did do something which is totally #lifegoals in February: I created my very first parody music video--an amazing (yes, I do say so myself) love song about food. Tangled's famous "I See the Light" becomes "It Is Lunchtime". Utterly amazing. One of the proudest achievements of my life.


March is the beginning of birthday season in my family, which meant that while we spent much of the month in the normal routine of work and homeschool and our usual responsibilities, we snuck in plenty of celebrating! Planning and hosting an Alice in Wonderland-themed UnBirthday Tea for my 14-year-old sister was a highlight--probably the prettiest party I've ever put together. Angel and I surprised my sisters with the perfect birthday present--an outing to watch Disney on Ice! Easter happened, and Angel got baptized this month.


I honored my Dad's birthday and April Fool's Day by attempting to prank my beloved reader's by sharing the story behind Angel's and my (nonexistent) tattoos. I also discovered our wedding video, which had been lost for a few years, in a forgotten dropbox account. That's how people lose stuff in the digital age, folks!


Be still my heart. The highlight of this month was the fact that my sister Anna returned home after her first year of college. One of the most precious people in the world to me--I couldn't wait to simply 'do life' with her for a couple months. Angel earned himself 9th place in a 10K race--and won a bike in the raffle afterwards, which made it an especially exciting race (of course, now the wife expects him to place and, in addition, to win raffle prizes, in all races, which might be an unreasonably high standard). I colored my hair a vivid turquoise after finally getting the much coveted bright hair color I'd asked Anna to bring along in her suitcase! I also hosted one of the biggest events of my year--a community 'date night' for married couples, where we provided a 4-course meal, entertainment, and childcare. An intimidating event to put together (adults are a tough audience!) but one that I'm glad I put into action, as complicated as it was ( stoves at the venue didn't work and we had food to cook...what would you do?)


These months were big ones as far as events I had planned! I'd organized a spiritual retreat to Cameron Highlands which took place this month, and went over splendidly--so splendidly that I hope to do something of the sort again this next year if timing works out. This was Anna's last full month in the country, and in order to maximize adventure, the two of us took a little trip to Singapore all on our own, and adventured everywhere we could on buses. On that trip, we had many adventure, including an 11+km hike through very steep, muddy terrain that left my legs sore for the next two days. Angel ran a half marathon and placed 4th in his division, winning another trophy, but this time he did not win anything in the lucky draw, and we were disappointed in him. ;)


First things first. I colored my hair purple, and I had to say goodbye to Anna. July was the month that we took the dream birthday trip that I'd been plotting for months--a week-long getaway to Tokyo, Japan in honor of Angel's 32nd and my 25th birthday. I had schemed for months, snagging surprisingly affordable plane tickets on a budget airline, and small apartments on Airbnb for inexpensive housing--leaving us able to splurge on tickets to DisneySea and Disneyland while we were in town. We had great expectations for our trip, and Tokyo surpassed them all. I fell in love with ramen, and enjoyed the widely available butter popcorn and bagels (not widely available here at all!). I bought dresses in Harajuku and Angel got to tour a museum dedicated to parasites. It was the perfect adventure. Also, in July, we celebrated our 2nd anniversary of living abroad. Year two was harder than the first year, that's certain.


Sure, I'd just had a great vacation in July, but my parents had the opportunity for a free place to stay in KL for a week, so I joined them on their family vacation with my little sisters, leaving Angel at home to work while we played for a week. As soon as vacation was over, all the busy-ness of life came back in full force after a summer of fun enjoying time spent with our visiting sister Anna and other summer adventures. We did, however, make enough time to create and film another parody music video--this time, a parody of Charlie Puth's "One Call Away". Ours is called "Two Feet Away", and is dedicated to everyone who's addicted to their smartphone. Also, my sister Lizzy got engaged this month and began planning her wedding, which will take place next year.


In early September, I found out that I was pregnant. Hoping for a baby was a long season which I had shared with very few in my life. Here, finally, I actually had that precious little one I'd longed for and got to share all the  joy with family and friends. My littlest sister suggest I name the baby "Black Jack". We dressed up and took our announcement photo and giggled as we watched family members open the photo on Skype. Angel started leaving notes with potential baby names on them around the house. Work was very busy but we woke up each morning and went to sleep each night in joy. I hosted a lock-in for teens and a ladies' fellowship crafting + manis + cookies party in the same weekend.


On October 1st I told the baby "Welcome to your very first October!" I was ridiculously excited. Little did I know I only had about a week of that joy left. I ended up spending much of the month in a dark fog, barely able to keep up with the work I had to do. My memory of October is mostly just black.


Life keeps going, somehow. I still broke into tears at very little provocation. I still had trouble sleeping--nights were especially sad and I often woke up in the morning in tears. But I was able to exercise and I was able to feel comfortable teaching lessons again. I wrote a little more and I busied my hands with organizing the house. I ordered a memory ring in honor of my first baby. We made plans for an anniversary getaway and started preparing for Christmas


It would be difficult to not be able to see sparkles of joy in December. The month started with our beautiful anniversary getaway, a good time of rest and renewal. The month was busy--although not too busy with Christmas-related activities: there is youth camp and a VBS to run before Christmas even happens. A weird sort of loneliness remains, though hope relentlessly breaks through at times.  Now, onward to 2017.


Merry Christmas to you all and a Happy New Year!

What were the highlights of "The Random Writings" blog for you this year? Anything particularly good or memorable, or any critique that I ought to remember as this blog follows me into a new year?

Helene in Between
Chrissy said...

A lot has been going on in your world in 2016. I love the memory ring you got! What a sweet idea!
I really hope 2017 will be all you wish for and more!
Happy Christmas and all the best for the New Year!

Donna said...

I can't tell you enough how much I appreciated your honesty and sincerity as you shared the story of your baby on your blog. Your faith shone through your story and even though my heartached for you, it was also refreshing to read real stories of faith through trial. I continue to pray that you will find peace in this season and you are able to find joy as you celebrate Christmas. Wishing you all the best in 2017! <3

rk said...

Wow you went through so much this year... I think a lot of people did a lot more living than they anticipated for 2016.

Rach said...

Oh friend, so much in just one year. So many wonderful highlights, but these last few months have held so much grief for you. You are still in my prayers.

Suzanne said...

This has been a tough end to the year for you.

Wishing you strength, love and happiness for 2017.


Raluca L. said...

This was a full year for you! I wish you a lot of happiness and love for 2017!

Jen said...

Wow what a busy year it has been for you! :)

Vickie said...

Sweet one, I don't even know you, but I cried for you this morning. What joy and sorrow, and PEACE. I love your blog. Found you through Peony Project. Hold on to HOPE. I am a Nana to nine, and we have have experienced great joy and sorrow as well, and well, life is precious. You are precious. Take care of yourself, trust God, and LIVE. He will carry you through. <3 Merry Christmas!

Grady said...

I am working on my 2016 review post as well, but I'm so so glad I read yours. Obviously I've been following your journey this year, and I'm so grateful to have gotten to know you through this online space. <3 I cannot imagine the pain you are going through but know that you are in my prayers and I am in awe of your bravery and honesty through this. Sending so much love to you and Angel and the rest of your family <3

Callie said...

Sounds like 2016 was a colorful hair year. ;-) I am so sorry to hear about your little one. I'm praying for you. <3

Unknown said...

Ah, such a lovely post! I love the memory ring!

The Lady Okie said...

Your "two feet away" video was just the best. And you totally rock purple hair like no other. I loved reading about how you chose your memory ring, although of course I wish you hadn't needed to get one at all. I pray that 2017 brings you joy and peace. Nothing like a new year for a fresh start :) Merry Christmas to you both!

Jenny Evans said...

And that's what a year looks like. I'm glad you were able to put together some good and happy memories of a year that turned out to be a really sad one as well.

Bonnie M said...

Sounds like the middle of the year was full of mostly sweet memories. I'm so sorry for your loss in October though. I hope 2017 is a wonderful year for you!

Caitlin said...

Rachel, I loved this post!! What a great synthesis of your year-and what a busy one at that!
Wishing you all the best in the New Year!!

Laura Darling said...

You had such highs and lows this year, friend. I hope 2017 holds many wonderful things for your family.

Danielle said...

That memory ring is a lovely idea. Hope 2017 brings you immeasurable blessings!

The Girl who Loved to Write said...

What a year! Highs and lows. And I just read the tattoo post, I totally believed it haha!

Charlene Maugeri said...

I'm so glad you had so many good things happen this year. This year was pretty terrible for a lot of people. Maybe I should go through blog posts and put something together like this. For my own sake. Also, I'm at work so I can't watch the "Two Feet Away" parody right now, but I'm definitely watching it when I get off! I'm not sure how I missed it the first time!