Reflections On 2017

Happy New Year (1)

Happy new year, everyone! And welcome to 2018.

Near the end of the year, I take time to reflect on the past year. It helps me to remember what I learned, step back and take a deeper look, and embrace the coming of a new year. Here are my reflections from 2016.

1. What was the best thing that happened this year?

Our family had many adventures with God in ministry. It was a year filled with risk-taking, powerful moments, and loving people. Along with a team of friends, we started a faith community in our house that has been a place of so much life and joy.

2. What was the most challenging thing that happened?

Adjusting to new life rhythms. I had a hard time figuring out how to allot my time, especially with rest, exercise, and writing.

3. What was an unexpected joy?

Finding our beautiful house. This was a journey that began in fall of 2016, when Steve and I were praying, and sensed God telling us to move to Kapolei, a city in West Oahu. After twists, turns, miracles, and lots of seeking God, we were able to buy a home. It is in Kapolei, perfectly suited for our family and hosting gatherings. It feels very much like where God intends us to be right now.

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?

A need for friendship. I need more depth in relationship with peers, and have felt a lacking in that area of life.

5. Pick three words to describe 2017.

Messy. Presence. Planting.

6. What were the best books you read this year?

Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish – For any bread-bakers out there, this is a great book that teaches you principles and methods of baking naturally leavened bread.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates – This was such a powerful, haunting read. At times beautiful and painful, it stuck with me all year more than other books I read.

Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton – I’ve been slowly digesting the life wisdom within this book. Barton has long been a favorite author of mine. She writes with authority about the road to spiritual formation, and in a way that actually leads her readers into the transformation they are seeking.

7. What did you do in 2017 that you’ve never done before?

This year I committed to the practice of asking God, “What are you doing right now, and how do you want me to partner with you?” I asked, I listened, and more often than not, I sensed God speaking. This simple interaction with God has shaped me so deeply. I’ve become more expectant in mundane daily moments that God might show up in a powerful way. I’ve had a deepening conviction that God is active and alive. I’ve flexed new listening and faith muscles.

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

I suppose the practice I described in #7 could be considered my new year’s resolution for 2017. Sometime early last year, I committed to asking God the question, ” What are you doing right now, and how to you want me to partner with you?” Also in 2017, I had the goals of planting a thriving faith community (which we’re continuing to do), start a gathering for artists and creatives (which I did), and buy a home on Oahu (which we did). I’d say I kept my resolutions from last year.

For 2018, I am going to do the following:

  • Exercise 3-4 times a week.
  • Meet with a spiritual director monthly.
  • Invest in a few primary peer friendships.
  • Do the Life Reflection once a week.

Speaking of resolutions, I wrote this post last year on my Spiritual Journey blog, 6 Reflection Questions to Help You Live Out Your Purpose. Reading through it again today helped me consider my goals for this new year.

9. For what are you most grateful?

I am grateful for a deepening relationship with God that is dynamic, alive, and ever-evolving.

10. How did you change this year?

I say yes more. Yes to God, yes to others, yes to my own soul, yes to opportunities that feel scary.

11. What moments were most memorable?

Moving into our new house. Getting our puppy, Pono. Meeting several people who are now part of our faith community. Reconciliation with a friend, where I received grace and forgiveness.

12. What were your greatest discoveries?

  • These fabulous bedsheets. Game changer.
  • The joy of baking naturally leavened bread.
  • I’m more of a dog person than I thought.
  • Having a community that comes together in pain and celebration is a beautiful part of life.
  • Times of solitude and quiet are precious to me.

13. What are you looking forward to this coming year?

I am looking forward to stewarding myself, my time, and my resources with faith and fruitfulness.

14. What was the most significant thing you learned this year?

I’m in need of grace again and again.

The Best Recipes For An Amazing Thanksgiving Meal

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I am really passionate about Thanksgiving. Our family celebrates Thanksgiving through the entire month of November with our Thanksgiving tree tradition.

Most years we host a family/friends Thanksgiving gathering at our house, and this year will be no different. Usually we share the work of cooking the variety of Thanksgiving food. Mom’s making roast turkey, my husband does the sweet potatoes, I don’t trust anyone but myself to cook the stuffing.

After hosting Thanksgiving for so many years, I figured I needed to start curating the list of recipes that have become classics (or at least repeats) for our Thanksgiving meal. And yay for you, I’m writing this post far enough in advance so you can plan an amazing meal.

Happy cooking, eating, and merriment!

Roast Turkey

Good Eats Roast Turkey (from Alton Brown) – This turkey recipe has over 5,000 reviews, for good reason. It’s super flavorful and moist.

Perfect Turkey – I’ve made this recipe a few times, with and without the brine. It’s well-seasoned.

Perfect Roast Turkey – This is the one roast turkey recipe I’d go with. Ina’s methods are classic and simple, and really do result in the perfect roast turkey. When in doubt, always trust Ina.

Side Dishes

Perfectly Easy Dinner Rolls – This is a family favorite that I learned from my mom. Light, buttery, and quite a bit like King’s Hawaiian Sweet Bread.

Yummy Sweet Potato Casserole – If sweet potatoes are your thing, this dish is for you. My husband has made this one for years.

Corn Casserole – I didn’t grow up eating corn casserole (sometimes called cornbread pudding). One Thanksgiving my friend Ethel brought this dish over, and I was like, “What IS this?” I’ve been fixing this recipe ever since. It’s super simple to make, and the perfect sidekick to all the other traditional Thanksgiving fare.

Green Bean Casserole With Crispy Onions – I love how fresh this recipe is. It takes some extra prep, but it’s worth it.

Sausage and Herb Stuffing – I make this stuffing every year. Tip: you can make it in a crockpot to save precious oven space for other dishes.

Classic Mashed Potatoes – A no-fuss mashed potatoes recipe. It’s all you need.

Cranberry Sauce – Please, for the love of food, do not serve canned cranberry sauce (aka gross lump of jelly). This recipe is what cranberry sauce is supposed to be.

Desserts

Apple Pie – I think apple pie is good any time of the year. So why not add it to your Thanksgiving table?

Sticky Toffee Pudding – This is another Thanksgiving repeat for us (and sometimes makes an appearance at Christmas). I think this goes so well with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Pumpkin Pie – The obvious choice for Thanksgiving dessert. You can make this a day or two in advance if you’re trying to space out your meal prep.

Crack Pie – Have you tried Crack Pie yet? It’s a real thing, and it will blow your mind.

Creme Brulee – If you want to have a fancier dessert, make creme brulee.

Leftovers

Jook (Chinese Porridge) – I come from a Chinese family that traditionally makes this porridge with the leftover turkey meat and carcass after Thanksgiving. It makes a great post-Thanksgiving day dinner.

The Great After-Thanksgiving Turkey Enchiladas – A great way to use leftover turkey.

Lemon Turkey Noodle Soup – This recipe is just as good with turkey as it is with chicken. We love this soup on a cold day.

More Thanksgiving Ideas

Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well

Thanksgiving Cookbook: 100 Simple and Easy Holiday Recipes

Please share in the comments…what are you making for Thanksgiving? Do you have any recipes to share?