As the year comes to an end, this magical week between Christmas and New Year’s always feels like a deep breath. It’s a chance to rest, to think and reflect, and prepare for the change of the calendar.

One way I love to mark the end of the year is by noticing and naming the good things. It helps me look back on the last 365 days and find the things that brought joy, growth, entertainment, convenience, surprising delight.

Here is my list:

BOOKS

When I look back at my kindle library for 2020, I notice a theme: feel-good fiction. This was the year of easy reads, nothing that made me feel too much emotion, and, oddly enough, few books that were all that remarkable πŸ™‚ There were a couple of standouts worth mentioning, though far fewer novels than in year’s past.

Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos

Save Me The Plums by Ruth Reichl (this is a memoir that I enjoyed thoroughly)

Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey

As for non-fiction, there are a handful of important books I read in 2020.

The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness by Tim Keller (a must-read that is absolutely transformational)

Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen

Your Blue Flame by Jennifer Fulwiler

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho (I received this on Christmas morning and it was finished by Christmas night)

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel (we read and discussed this in our women’s bible study group and it was so good)

New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp (the devotional I used all year)

 

SHOWS + MOVIES

Here are the shows and movies that brought entertainment, thoughtfulness, mindlessness and creative inspiration.

The Chosen. This series is available to watch on the app and is absolutely beautiful. Season One covers the beginning of the ministry of Jesus (if I were not sitting with my family I could have let myself hyperventilate cry during episode one. It is beautiful).

The Chosen Christmas Special.

Cheer (I loved this one)

Into the Unknown: the making of Frozen II (I know, such a weird pick, but it is fascinating to see how the film comes together. Such brilliant artists!).

Hamilton. Of course.

Hart of Dixie (watched season one while packaging orders and found it so charming)

Survivor season 40 (can’t stop, won’t stop)

The Crown

 

PODCASTS

Annie and Eddie Keep Talking was a happy listen all year long.

Bridgetown Church HOPE episode (a must-listen)

The Jennifer Allwood Show

The Lazy Genius Way

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey interviewing Alli Worthington and Annie F. Downs interviewing Alli Worthington

Never Believe Anything Bad About God (Next Right Thing Podcast)

 

MUSIC

The Blessing by Kari Jobe

Protector by Kim Walker Smith

The Hymns 1 album by Shane & Shane

It’s Quiet Uptown from Hamilton (this one makes me cry hard)

Lover by Taylor Swift ft. Shawn Mendes

Cinderella Soundtrack (this is what I listened to while I wrote and edited my book. I will always love it)

Most listened to Spotify playlist: Chill Hits.

 

HOME

Lots of time was spent at home this year. Like, pretty much all the time. These are the things that made it homier:

Ferpie & Fray Reed Diffuser in Grapefruit Pine.

Stripe Organic Sheet Set

Lilia Rug (we bought this for our family room and I could not love it more)

Kitchen Backsplash Tile in white (did I mention we remodeled our kitchen this year?!)

New Floors (did I mention we redid all the downstairs floors?!)

Weighted Blanket

 

SCHOOL + KIDS

What an odd year it has been for the kids and school. The spring was spent doing online school through our school district and the fall brought a new experience for all of us: Homeschool. It’s been good, challenging, tiring, freeing. We are grateful for adaptable kids and a mother-in-law who stepped in to help when overwhelm kicked in hard for me.

Abeka Online Academy (this is what we’re using. We mostly like it, but it is more intense than any of us expected).

Noise Canceling Wireless Ear Buds (a must)

Cute Binder (to hold all the grades)

Plastic Magazine Holder (for all the workbooks)

Blue Light Blocking Glasses

Polymer Clay (so many hours of clay creating)

Duct Tape (the perfect source of endless creation)

 

ART + WORK

2020 was the year of finishing up Freely and Lightly and starting on Twirl, two books that I am so proud of and so grateful to be part of. It was also a year of jumping back in the product creation world with Truth for Today cards and Watercolor Workbooks. What an incredible year it’s been for my business and finally feeling like I’m moving in the right direction. These are the art and work things that I reached for most this year:

Watercolor Paints (I use tubes of paint in assorted colors)

Palette

Watercolor Paper

Size 6 Round Brush (this is my favorite)

Size 1 Round Brush (also my go-to)

Scanner (I scan all watercolor art and bring it into Photoshop to remove background and make slight edits)

Mechanical Pencil

Day Planner (such a cute cover)

 

WEAR

Slippers (all day every day)

Skinny Jeans (Sometimes you find a pair of jeans that are just right. This is my pair.)

Wideleg Jeans (also worn on rotation)

Leggings

Nail Polish

 

EAT

I cooked my way through so many recipes from my two favorite cookbooks: Half Baked Harvest Cookbook (the Thai coconut curry with chickpeas is delish!) and Half Baked Harvest Super Simple (especially the Everything Bagel Salad!).

How many batches of Chocolate Chip Cookies did I make? Countless …

Sea Salt Caramels were a hit again this Christmas

Cinnamon Rolls are always good.

 

What a year. Strange, yes, but also full of God’s goodness found in so many places. I hope you can take a few minutes to reflect on all that was good, true and beautiful about your year.

with much love,

Emily