Reflections On 2016

happy-new-year

Happy 2017, dear friends!

Near the end of the year, I take time to reflect on the past year. It helps me to remember what I learned, consider the greater context of my life, and embrace the coming of a new year.

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

Getting to live with lots of purpose and passion through spiritual direction, ministry, writing, and other creative venues.

2. What was the most challenging thing that happened?

This year felt like a horrible earthquake with never-ending aftershocks, so it’s hard to boil it down to one thing. Maybe a good way to sum it up is “all the people treating other people like crap.”

3. What was an unexpected joy?

Creating a really awesome community in my Facebook group The Spiritual Journeyers.

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?

Hopelessness. I’ve been battling hopelessness, particularly with racial injustice and the U.S. political climate, and trying hard to remain engaged and hopeful in God’s redemptive power.

5. Pick three words to describe 2016.

Tumultuous. God-driven. Listening.

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

The Listening Life by Adam McHugh
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Americanah by Chimamada Ngozi Adichie
The Invitation by Tony Stoltzfus

7. What did you do in 2016 that you’ve never done before?

My husband and I were on a performing arts team for an international audience of about 1,000 people. It was exhilarating. I also became a contributing writer for The Huffington Post.

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

My 2016 was characterized by two aims:

  1. Follow the joy – build life around what is fueled by joy.
  2. Listen and obey – make space to hear God’s voice and follow his lead.

Those two guidelines seemed to lead me to good places. I think I’ll continue in that direction in 2017.

9. For what are you most grateful?

There are so many things to be grateful for…

  • a rich friendship with God
  • my husband and our three kids
  • living on Oahu
  • being near my parents
  • community with courageous people

10. How did you change this year?

I am more confident than ever before. This year I did things that normally would have made me feel insecure, but instead were exhilarating. I’m not sure if this confidence comes from years of pressing into my belovedness with God, or simply because I’m now in my mid-thirties. In any case, I’m glad to be here.

11. What moments were most memorable?

Performing theatre in Indonesia for 1,000 people. Going on a cruise in the Carribbean with Steve’s family. Hearing God give us direction for 2017.

12. What were your greatest discoveries?

  • Disney’s Moana filled me with joy
  • Everlane shirts are all I want to wear
  • Classes at my gym
  • Canva for designing graphics

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

I am excited to extend God’s love and presence to people around me, launch a monthly creatives gathering, and publish a book.

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

We become our truest selves in the presence of God.

Merry Christmas!

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Marks Family Highlights of 2016

  • Steve and Larissa served as pastors at Bluewater Mission Church in Honolulu, which included hosting many community gatherings in our home, Steve leading a Bluewater team to Indonesia, and both of us preaching a few sermons.
  • We took a separate trip to Indonesia with a performing arts team to perform theatre for a conference of over 1,000 ministry leaders from all over the world.
  • Larissa continued working as a spiritual director, and was grateful to guide people in their faith journey through one-on-one spiritual direction, group discussions, and an online community.
  • Aaron (7) enjoyed losing his first tooth (and 2nd, 3rd, and 4th), playing soccer, starting 2nd grade, and playing board games like Dominion and 7 Wonders.
  • Alexandra (4) loves preschool, learning to read, creating all kinds of artwork, and is currently obsessed with listening to the Moana soundtrack.
  • Aria (1) has been quick to learn new words, climb on furniture, laugh with her siblings, and rip up all the paper that she can find.
  • We are looking forward to 2017 with anticipation of new adventures and continued hope in Jesus.

Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau’oli Makahiki Hou
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year