It's been a hard year for so many of us. It wasn't the worst year of my life but it was pretty darn close. I am still struggling to come to terms with it all, honestly. Being on social media less helps, a lot (I will most likely go dark for the majority of January, for mental health reasons). But looking back and reflection helps me too.
It felt like I didn't get to write or read very much this past year. I had two kids to look after, one which needed my attention an awful lot. I helped at homework clubs and english classes and started a welcome center at an elementary school. I published my first book (which was so much more work than I could have ever realized). We moved into a house around the corner. We started going to church more. I tried very hard to hang around and get to know my neighbors, which takes a lot of time.
But I just went back and looked at the past year. And you know what? I did manage to write every now and again. In fact, I wrote over 30 articles for various publications. This doesn't include my monthly newsletters and the countless blog posts I wrote (including one every day in the month of November). Also, I was on 7 podcasts and was interviewed 6 times, and spoke at 4 different events/conferences. How is this possible? It truly feels like I spent all of 2016 picking bits of crusty food off of the floor and staring despondently at the news on my phone.
But it all happened. And moving forward, I will keep writing. Because it will be the artists who teach us how to resist evil and injustice. We need to keep reading and writing and singing and sculpting and crafting and creating music. We need to keep producing for the sake of our hearts and minds and souls. We need to immerse ourselves in the works of people on the margins, because they will be the ones to lead us. 2016 you got me down. But I am going into 2017 with a goal: I am looking for truth and hope from the artists.
And with that, I will leave you with a few of my favorite articles I published in the past year:
Sadly, I feel like I could write this all over again today. After spending a few days in Montgomery this is fresh on my mind. When will we ever truly repent and lament our history of white supremacy and violence against people of color?
This piece was heavily edited but I hope the spirit and heart behind it shines through. I have been so influenced by the life and work of Shane and so many others, and I wanted this to a be a sort-of love letter to people who want to do this kind of work moving forward.
I got to write about my daughter, Ramona Quimby, and sneak in a bit about gentrification. Perfection!
I think this piece is a good summary of my life and work within refugee communities, and the challenge of maintaining hope in traumatized communities.
This was probably the biggest piece I wrote in the past year and I am still so grateful for the opportunity and the experience. I pray the church wakes up to the moral crisis happening in Portland.
This essay means a lot to me because I got to weave in a few very personal reflections on death and motherhood and inequality and injustice, as well as do a bit of travel writing (which I love).
So there you are. Read, enjoy, and then go and work on your own stuff! We have so much work to do in 2017.