2017 Year in Review

As I sit here on the eve of 2018 the thought that comes to mind is: well, I’m glad that’s over. 2017 was a hard year.

Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot to be thankful for! One of the things that I love about doing these year in review posts is it forces me to catalogue all wonderful things that happened over the past year. My heart tends to stray a bit too much towards pessimism/cynicism, so this is a great reminder of all the new things I did; the music, books and movies I enjoyed; the places I travelled; and the accomplishments, failures and lessons I learned over a year in the life.

But if I’m being really and truly honest, this was one the most emotionally and spiritually tough years I’ve been through to date. There were some dark days, with a lot of cursing at the sky and raising my fist at my father on high.

As I look back over the last year and take stock, I’m thankful for what it brought me. Even the hard days, because they bring you closer to God and to the people who walk through them with you. But as I look ahead to 2018, my prayer is for a deeper understanding of the light, joy and hope to be found in Christ. And above all, I pray for a little more loving kindness—for myself and for the world.

Can you believe I have been doing this for seven years? Me neither! For Auld Lang Syne’s sake here are the posts from 2010, 2011201220132014, 2015, and 2016

What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?

  • Released an EP (with Heritage Hill)
  • Rented a car
  • Was nominated for a music award
  • Recorded a podcast
  • Ate Brazilian BBQ
  • Brought Vancouver friends home to Edmonton
  • Went to the PNE
  • Walked across the crosswalk at Abbey Road
  • Saw a blue whale skeleton
  • Traveled to Germany/Czech Republic/Austria
  • Went to a European Football Game!
  • Helped plan a conference
Heritage Hill – Photo Cred: Clint Bargen Photography
Tiff in our “compact” rental car in Germany.
Heritage Hill Podcasting with Norm.
Bundesliga Game in Berlin
Showing off my hometown to Nat, Tiff and Grace.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last year I resolved to get up earlier in the morning and make it to work at a normal “grown-up” time. I’ve had marginal success, but this is most likely due to my commute time being cut in half when I moved. I’m ready to just accept defeat in this area in 2018. Whatever you guys, I’m working the same amount of hours.

I also resolved to read 24 books last year and I fell short of that goal. In my defence, the two volumes of the Winston Churchill biography I read this year were probably as long as three separate books each. Anyway, I read 20, so at least I didn’t decrease the number from last year. I’m making this a repeat goal for 2018.

My true resolution for this year is to decrease the amount of time I spend staring at screens, particularly my phone. In order to write this year in review post, I had to look back over the last few years and I’ve noticed a common theme: each year I’ll say that I want to spend more time reading and writing, but I’ve never actually followed through on it.

Over the past few months I’ve started to become aware of how much of my time is actually taken up with staring at my phone screen. I’ve noticed myself impulsively reaching for it and checking Instagram or Twitter first thing in the morning; I have to make a conscious effort to put it down and fully pay attention even while I’m watching something else on TV. I’m addicted to the endless scroll, and it’s not healthy. My attention span is shrinking and it sometimes feels like hard work to focus long enough to read even a paragraph.

Because of my day job I’m not able to unplug from the internet or social media completely. But my goal for 2018 is to reduce the number of hours I spend staring at a screen in the time when I’m not at work. I’m hoping it will help me to be more creative and give me a little of my brain space back.  

Also I resolve to bake Swedish Cardamom Buns at least once in 2018. I had these at a bakery in London and they were so delicious I went back four times.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

The Schroeder’s had their baby girl Ella!  But just wait until next year because at least half of my friends are pregnant right now.

Did anyone close to you die?


What countries did you visit?

The USA (Phoenix, Seattle, Oregon Coast), The U.K. (London), Germany (Berlin/Potsdam, Munich), The Czech Republic (Prague, Cesky Kremlov) and Austria (Salzburg)

Phoenix, AZ
Multnomah Falls, Oregon
St. Pauls, London
Eating pretzels in Berlin.
Prague, Czech Republic. One of my favourite places we went to on this trip.
The view of Salzburg from Hohensalzburg Castle.
Neuschwanstein (aka Sleeping Beauty Disneyland) Castle.

What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?

A boyfriend and a move to another country. Just going to keep putting “a boyfriend” on here until it happens, you guys.

What dates from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

February 16th – The day we released the Heritage Hill EP.

August 4th – The day I moved to my new apartment in Mount Pleasant.

September 17th – The day the Y work conference started.

October 6th – The day I left for London.

What were your biggest achievements of the year?

A work promotion (waaaay back in January). Finding a place to live in Vancouver. Being nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award (with Heritage Hill). Helping to plan and run a successful conference for Y CEOs from around the world. Finally facing my fears and going to the dentist. Winning my work fantasy football pool.

Let the record show that while I made these stand up banners I did NOT design this conference logo.

What was your biggest failure?

Waiting so long to go to the dentist.  

Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nothing serious. But I did need to get a bunch of cavities fixed.

What was the best thing you bought?

Plane tickets! Apple TV! The cute marching band oven mitts I got at the airport in London! The flowery jacket from the Brick Lane Jacket Man! New glasses! To be honest, I spent a lot of money this year and I’m hoping that 2018 will be the year of saving. Here is a photo of my coworker Gordon modelling my new jacket:

Gordon, my coworker and fantasy football league teammate, wearing my new jacket from London.

Whose behaviour merited celebration?

This has been an especially hard year for my dear friends, the Willertons. I wanted to give them a special year in review shout-out because I’ve watched them face a lot of pain and suffering this year with faithfulness, patience and even sometimes joy. Marc went above and beyond this year caring for his family while Chars has been healing from a long-term back injury. He has worked a full-time ministry job, led our community group, been a great Dad to his kids, and stepped up to shoulder the work at home that Chars couldn’t do while she’s recovering. He’d probably tell you that he didn’t always have a great attitude or that he had a lot of help and that he only made it through by God’s grace—all of which I’m sure is true, but as a friend, I’ve been so impressed and encouraged by how he has borne it all. He deserves a round of applause and maybe a nap or a solo trip to the movies.

And for her part, Chars has responded to this injury with so much grace. Even though it’s been so hard, she has always tried to seek the Lord in it and look for ways that He’s working or blessing her through suffering. She hasn’t dwelt in bitterness and cynicism—which I think I would be sorely tempted to do if I were in her situation.  She has kept her door open for people and is she’s one of the best listeners I know. Lots of people are only able to focus on themselves when they’re going through something hard, but not Chars. 

Anyway, I love them a lot. They’re basically my family here in Vancouver and I feel so thankful and abundantly blessed to have them in my life. My prayer for them is that 2018 would be full of health and healing and joy. And also that the Jets would make the playoffs but not beat the Oilers ever again.

Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

The list is long: The United States of America, cable news networks, the long list of men in positions of power who have committed sexual assault, The Oilers from October to early December, whoever punched Leon Draisaitl, my former landlord.

Where did most of your money go?

Travelling and moving.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Going back to London, Real Friends EuroTrip 2017, the Oilers making the playoffs, finding a new place to live.

A beautiful day in Trafalgar Square.
Real Friends Euro Trip 2017 (at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin).

 What songs will always remind you of 2017?

  • Want You Back – HAIM
  • Love Keeps – Scenic Route to Alaska
  • Sweet Creature – Harry Styles

And bonus, just for fun, these were my most listened to albums from the last year:

  • The Beauty Between – Kings Kaleidoscope
  • Harry Styles
  • Walk into a Storm – The Lone Bellow
  • Labyrinth – David Baloche
  • Something to Tell You – HAIM
  • Long Walk Home – Scenic Route to Alaska

Compared to this time last year, are you:

Happier or Sadder? A bit sadder.

Thinner or Fatter? About the same.

Richer or Poorer?  Slightly richer, but like “millennial rich” so I still can’t afford a house or anything.

What do you wish you’d done more of?

Reading, writing, having meaningful conversations.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Netflix, looking at my phone, worrying.

How will you be spending Christmas?

I spent Christmas in Edmonton with my family this year. It was a very quick trip because I’d already used up all my vacation days travelling. Christmas felt especially quiet this year because it was just me, Mom and Dad for a lot of it, but it was nice and restful. Mom and I did a puzzle (Mom stayed up until 3am to finish it, typical), I read an entire book and watched some hockey with Dad. We also went to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi altogether as a family. Star Wars movies are becoming a Christmas tradition.

Did you fall in love in 2017?

No. Just deeper in love with London I guess. 

City love of my life.

What was your favourite TV program?

Peaky Blinders (Season Four came out this week MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME FROM NETFLIX AND THE BBC), The Crown, Riverdale, Stranger Things, Cable Girls, Happy Valley, Jane the Virgin, Last Tango in Halifax, Line of Duty, The Night Manager, Queen of the South. That’s a lot, isn’t it?

What were the best books you read?

  • None Like Him: 10 Ways that God is Different From Us – Jen Wilkin (Srsly Jesus friends, read this one. And I know there are flowers on the cover but it’s a good book for dudes to read too ok?)
  • Gilead – Marillyne Robinson. One of the best books I’ve read maybe ever? I need to read it again because there were a lot of ideas to chew on.
  • All the Cormoran Strike books

What was your greatest musical discovery?

Guitar players write the hardest piano parts.

What did you want and get?

A new place to live in a great location/building (Thank you Jesus)!  

My new apartment just off Main Street.

What did you want and not get?

In-suite laundry.

What were your favourite films of this year?

Dunkirk. I honestly wasn’t sure what a Christopher Nolan war movie was going to be like, but this was an absolute masterpiece. I went to see it in IMAX by myself in the middle of moving (just to get a break from the house) and I loved it.

Baby Driver. Listened to the soundtrack for weeks after I saw it in the theatre.  

The Big Sick. This was so funny and delightful. 

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 33 this year. Ariana took me to Jethro’s for brunch and in the evening we had a BBQ and “campfire” at the Willertons house. 

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

If I’d been able to trust God a bit more and worry a bit less.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?

An attempt to be 50% as stylish as Stephanie Brennan (but with glasses).

Casual Pret a Manger lunch with the Brennans in Trafalgar Square.

What kept you sane?

Jesus, introvert time and a few close girlfriends.

Which celebrity or public figure did you fancy the most?

James Norton, Tommy Shelby, Leon Draisaitl, Adam Larsson and the guys from Pod Save America.

What political issue stirred you the most?

How do I choose!? Watching politics this year became like watching sports. Between the crazy election here in B.C. where we didn’t know who the Premier was going to be for a month, to everything going on down south and across the pond, it was hard to keep up and I don’t think I can pick just one political issue.

Who did you miss?

Gramma Miller and Jordan Eberle.

Who was the best new person you met?

The Brazilians! In February, three married couples from Brazil joined our community group and it has been so fun getting to know them and laughing about all of our cultural and language differences. It takes so much courage to move somewhere that you don’t speak the language and dive head-first into a brand new culture and community, but they’ve done it! I admire them so much and am glad to count them as friends. Also Brazilian BBQ is probably the best thing I tasted this year.

Our Community Group (minus a few people). Photo cred: Gillian Stevens

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017?

God is faithful even though I’m pretty faithless most of the time. Also he is a good, loving and gracious father who provides for me even when I don’t believe he is going to come through. I have a hard time believing that God will do small-time, everyday miracles (like finding a nice apartment that I can afford in the Vancouver rental market hellscape). To be honest, these are lessons I have to keep learning over and over in my life…so I guess I’ve also learned that God is patient.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year

Look what you made me do

Kidding! But now you have that song in your head don’t you? Ok here’s the real answer, from Isaac off the Heritage Hill EP:

And I don’t understand
The wisdom and grace of your infinite plan
But you know what I need
I was lost in my pride now I’m brought to my knees.

Change my heart and help me see
Give me faith to trust your promise to me

Oh Isaac our time here has come to an end
I’m laying you down trusting God he will send
A sacrifice, the lamb the Christ
I’m laying you down with my will once again. 

I may not know when
But your promise is sure and it won’t break or bend
So I’ll take off my crown
And bow down to the King yeah I’m laying me down.