My last blog of 2016 is here! A couple of months ago, I never would have dreamed that I would end the year with my 92nd blog post. Normally I just write about my day, something that happened and caught my interest, but as you do on the last day of the year, I want to take you through my year with all the ups and downs. My image of the day is from the moment that I came up with the idea to start this blog. The silver lines of a spider web in the warm September sunshine. These are my highlights in silver from 2016.

1.I got a freaking Master’s degree

Some days I still can’t believe that I am done with university. I finished my Master’s this year. I think that has been one of the main priorities of the year and it paid off well. I graduated with honours and can now call myself a sociologist with expertise in migration studies. Even though I can now put Msc. as a title behind my name, I don’t feel a hair more important than before. And I would like to keep it that way. What I treasure most from my years in university is the friendships that evolved, a way of thinking and the endless learning. I ended it with my own little Camino in the Netherlands. Walking by myself to let my mind rest and challenge myself physically yet another time.

2. Painful decisions

This year wasn’t just always easy. Around the time of my Master thesis field research, the board I was part of went through a difficult phase. Conflicts and different opinions drove a wedge in the board. Proper functioning was broken into pieces, let alone working together as a team on a strong mission. I regret that this happened. I know people on both sides were hurt in the process. But it is also a moment in which I grew closer with some members of the team. I learned about managing vs. leadership. I learned about taking responsibility vs. claiming responsibility. I learned about growth vs. loss. It made me realise that we all make mistakes and no one is perfect, but we are able to grow stronger in the end.

3. Even the smallest impact is meaningful at Camp Rising Sun

My summer was one to never forget. Definitely a highlight of the year. I loved working at Camp Rising Sun this season. The team was fantastic. The place is the same as always. The campers were incredibly talented, surprising, loving and different. I enjoyed every single moment of living in this temporary community. Knowing that each day is a gift and living according to that idea as a community is something very powerful. Everything you say or do, can have two effects. Even the smallest impact is meaningful. Not only positive, but also negative. But it is a learning curve that you experience together. Even though I said it would be my last, I am not so sure anymore. That place is magical.

4. Family matters

This year was a special year for my family. I have noticed us change together. In many ways we are still the same, but in a little things we grow older. My parents celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. First a wonderful vacation after I walked that long, but beautiful Camino. It was a rainy weekend in May at one of the Dutch islands. The week after a wonderful day of celebration with all those that we love. Lasting memories.

4. Breaking my record of distance travelled in a day

Again not a highlight. Right after I got back from the States, I got the opportunity to go do research in Ethiopia. Very exciting and challenging work! After a hectic preparation time, we finally got the opportunity to get on that plane and go. However, everything went different. Within a day we were back in the Netherlands. No research. No travelling. But an empty six weeks ahead instead. For a couple weeks I was very angry. Angry at God, angry at the authorities and angry at the unexplained questions. But eventually I put my anger aside, knowing that those answers might never come. Instead I worked harder than before on getting a job, grabbed every opportunity and slowly found a way forward. It took a while, it wasn’t the easiest time of the year, but now I am getting somewhere again. And how could have thought that this trip would eventually lead me to a new house? More about that next week!

5. Writing every day and growing in opening up my hands

On the second day I wrote a blog about open hands. To remind myself about why I am doing this project. If I know look back I am already so proud of the content I created in the last three months. It went by incredibly fast. I have struggled on some days. I have found it very easy on others. But overall, I have enjoyed every single post. I have learned to live with open hands and see every bit of inspiration as a moment of blessing. A little wink from Above, telling me to keep going and to keep trying.

In the end I believe that the goal is to glorify God at every step in your life. This is just one of those steps. But I feel that I am  honouring his Creation if I write about nature.  I fight for Jesus’ values if I reflect upon behaviour or social issues. I simply bow at this Faithfulness, if I write about being lost and confused. In the end, that is what my blog is about. To go through a year of my life and trust that Jesus is there with me, before me, after me, above me and most of all, in me.

2016, a year with silver linings. I say goodbye to you with a smile and a grateful heart.

I wish you, my dear reader, close by or very far away, a very happy, healthy, inspirational, creative and Blessed 2017.