Here's a list of highlights from 2016:

Professionally: Opening for Darrell Scott (this has been a goal of mine for 7 years), going to Texas with Darryl Purpose, singing at The Bluebird Cafe for the first time, opening for the legendary Tom Paxton, singing my own show at Swallow Hill in Denver, Star Belle at FARM for the first time, jumping up on stage with DRL to sing harms, and getting up on stage with the Dixie Chicks (that was a complete stroke of luck, but I had to add it in).

 Personally: seeing my brothers and their families more this year than in the past, going to Bend, OR on family retreat to celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary, watching my boys play in the band and sing in the choir and play on the team, going to Indiana for a week to hang at the lake, fish, catch turtles go out on the boat, going to Denver for the weekend to celebrate Keith's 40th birthday, another magical week of Song School, going to Andy's CD release party on an icy night in Lincoln, and enjoying this home and this family and these friends all around me.

My brother passed away suddenly in 2016. We were not close and he had been troubled all his life. Life moves on without him until I'm suddenly struck by how he's gone. I confess I withheld love and gentleness and mercy from him while he was alive. When I'm struck by his being gone I'm reminded that I gain nothing from protecting my ability to love and only giving it out to people I think worthy. That's crap. In memory of him, I want to be careless with my love and mercy and gentleness. It's not like any of that stuff runs out and if I'm seen as foolish, then so be it. No one gets a reward for hiding lamps under bushels. No one gets a reward for classifying their neighbors into worthy and unworthy.

My friends and I have decided to be braver this year than last year. Whose coming to save you? Nobody. You better start swimming. What are you waiting for? Nothing. The time is now. In the spirit of urgency where we're not promised a tomorrow and we're not promised smooth sailing, we dare to press on in pursuit of what we desire. Be brave so that others become brave. That's what we're going to do. And we're going to get tattoos and dress up and embrace our alien identities. Kicking ass starts now.

2017 will be more standing in awe of my sons as they grow up. It'll be practicing more letting go and letting them become the people God has created them to be. They're not mine. They never were. I just get to help them along until they can do it themselves. As they get older I'm struck by how hard it is to watch them walk away. There were so many years when they were right here beside me, but that's only for a season. The process of working yourself out of a job as a mother is so great,  and also heart-wrenching. 2017 will have more of that. 

For now, Jon's off to Chicago after church. I'm on the couch and Joey's on the couch and pretty soon I'll have to wake up the other two boys for church. We'll go to church, remember our identity as beloved children of God, we'll come home and take down the Christmas tree. I'll fold laundry and hope to find a moment when I can pick up the guitar. Happy New Year.



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