I think if we were to poll the people in our lives we'd arrive at a near consensus that this year, 2017,  was quite unique, to put it mildly. There's a lot to think about when looking back on this year. Our political climate is as polar as ever, the global state of our environment is near breaking point, and our world economy is still not leaning towards helping the mass in need. But this year certainly has its highlights. We need only look at our own lives to find something to be thankful for in 2017.  

When I reflect on my personal development over the course of the year I'm proud of the woman God's developing me into. I'll never be perfect, nor do I have any such aspirations. What I hope to always be is developing under His grace. And that's exactly how I'd describe my 2017: growth in His grace. When I look over my personal highlights this year that's what I see, the manifestation of God's unmerited favor. In the midst of leaving two (going on three) jobs, dwindling finances, and abounding uncertainty, there was His grace. Always there, always comforting, loving, and strengthening my resolve.  

My top moments this year consist of days or just one day when God's love, joy, and peace overflowed in my life. These are the moments when everything simply aligned. The sun, moon, sea all together to celebrate this one little life I'm living. Here are my moments:  

  1. 5. Teaching 3rd Grade 

If I go on to win the Nobel Prize for whatever in this lifetime I'll have to mention this as one of my greatest experiences. I'm still unsure as to why God directed my path in this direction. As I've mentioned in my previous post teaching is something I'll always love, even knowing it's not my calling. This was single handedly where I spent most of my best days this year. The joy of teaching and interacting with my students is something I'll never forget. I'm certain I have left a profound and positive mark on their lives, because that's the impact they've had on mines. This was by far the hardest and most important job I've had in my life so far and I'm so grateful it was one of the most amazing.  

  1. 4. Strolling parks and beaches  

My simple and most peaceful moments came from sitting on a park bench or laying under the sun next to the waves. If I could spend my life in one place it'd be barefoot on a bench next to the sea. To pause and notice the birds, the flow of the wind in the grass, the passage of the waves is always amazingly dreamy. There were days when the full moon rose from the ocean as the golden sun set behind a pink wall of clouds and palm trees. I'm thankful for the days spent strolling contemplatively on my own or with a friend. There's nothing like nature to put life into perspective, to remind me of God's love and faithfulness. When life got overbearing I could always escapes to my favorite park or to the sea to renew and rejuvenate my soul. 

  1. 3. Cruising with my Mom  

My first cruise came the day after Thanksgiving with my mom and two aunts. The timing was perfect as I was in a desperate need of an escape to recenter myself. After being unemployed for three months I felt stuck, one of the worst feelings and this trip was just what I needed to get unstuck. And it did just that. As I started a new position not two weeks after. The cruise was by far the most relaxing trip I've ever taken. Nothing but relaxation, food (so much food 😍👅💦), and the sunny sandy Caribbean beaches. I mean, come on! I definitely wanted to extend my trip, it was about as perfect as possible. My favorite moment has to be looking at the brilliant stars over the sea. I saw stars I'd never seen before! It was so incredibly clear and beautiful. Definitely a moment I look forward to repeating. And naturally, spending the sunny days on the beach with my mommy and aunts.  

  1. 2. Solo Voyage to NYC  

There are moments that just pop into our minds and put an instant smile on our face. That's my little trip to New York City over the summer. There's little that can top endlessly strolling one of the greatest cities, eating amazing food in beautiful places, and gazing at some of the best art in the world. To have this to myself was one of the sweetest treats I gave myself this year. I'll be posting more on this next month.  

  1. 1. My 27th Birthday 

I should preface this by saying that by default my birthday is my favorite day of the year. I've always been big into my birthday. And this year was probably my 2nd favorite of all time following my 25th. There's was simply nothing more I wanted to do than be in a swimsuit on a boat with my family. It was my family's first boat outing. I felt very blessed to share that experience with the ones I care for the most.  That's the best part of birthdays, the people you share them with. That's the best part of life, the people.  

As I step back and look at the whole year I have a greater appreciation for these moments and the people who made them magical: my family, friends, and me. So here's to 2017  for everything that it taught me. And to all the awaiting adventures in 2018.  

Next week I'll be sharing what I'm most excited for in the new year so look out for that post.  

Yours Always & Faithfully,