Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Merry Christmas And Happy New Year

“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”~Luke 2:19

Well, 2017 is nearly over, and it has been quite a whirlwind. Every year, I strive to write some kind of retrospective on the year. Sometimes it makes an appearance in a Christmas letter, and other times it ends up being a blog post (which have declined in frequency in general in 2017—sorry!) to be shared online.

Where to begin? We have been witness to incredible blessings in 2017. God gave us the incredible joy of watching our daughter grow and explore this beautiful world. Sylvia’s birth and growth have definitely shifted our daily rhythms. We explore more, and we try to savor the little things a bit more than we probably have in the past. It has been amazing to see this little girl grow and learn and gaze upon the world with wide-eyed wonder, and fill her little heart with love, goodness, and discovery. She really brings out the best in everyone she comes in contact with, and that is a beautiful gift.

We were on the move a lot this year as well. Sylvia now has 26 states under her belt, she has explored five national parks, and has been on 30 flights. She (and we) have been diligent to be outside together for an average of an hour a day, and we go on almost daily walks together. There’s a 3.3 mile loop near our house that has become our walking/running circuit when we are home, so I guess we are always ready for a 5K walk/run. ;) I also worked to be more disciplined about taking vacation this year (I’m terrible at it but improving), and we were able to see some amazing sights during our travels; including sunrise in Glacier National Park. Sylvia also dipped her feet in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans during her first year of life too! One of my biggest joys with Sylvia this year had to be walking into our garden together, picking tomatoes off the vine, and sitting in our yard and eating them. Often the most joyful moments are the simple ones.

I finished a one year program for nonprofit leaders at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in May, and was invited back to campus this past fall to contribute to the learning of the incoming class.  I also accepted an invitation to become a member of Forbes Coaches Council and have contributed to a handful of articles online. In addition, we are continuing to expand our impact at Nuru. It’s hard to believe it has been 10 years since Jake and I first met up to discuss his idea for addressing extreme poverty in some of the toughest places on earth, and, thanks to your support, Nuru is now in three countries and has gone from an idea to an organization benefitting more than 120,000 people.

Jamie started back to work at Healthworks in February after her maternity leave. She’s an incredibly gifted and compassionate aquatic rehabilitation therapist, and it is a delight to see her serve so many and help people improve their wellbeing as she works with them in the pool. She has continued serving as a Congressional District Leader for the ONE Campaign (Bono’s poverty fighting advocacy organization) and during the ONE Summit this February worlds collided as she introduced the keynote for the event, Jake Harriman, CEO and Founder of Nuru International! When she’s not fighting poverty or improving lives at Healthworks, she’s caring so sweetly for our little girl!

Our hearts have been so full this year. My mind is flooded with details around memories throughout the year that I just can’t fit into a short letter. There has been so much goodness we have been able to savor, so much to be grateful to God for. Our friendship with you sits at the top of that list. We have been so privileged to have wonderful people like you in our life; praying for us, encouraging us, laughing with us, and shaping new memories with us.

My prayer is that 2018 will find each of us celebrating the little blessings that make appearances in our lives each day, and that we will grow in our gratitude, our generosity, and our care for one another. May we each do our part to love well in a world that could use more love, more grace, and more peace. And, like Mary in the Gospels, may each of us treasure up the stories and memories we are sharing and creating, pondering them in our hearts.

Merry Christmas and have a happy new year!