Today is New Year's Eve (insert "wow this year went by sooo quickly!" remarks here). Today marks an end, and more importantly, a beginning.

For me, 2013 was a year of high highs and low lows. As I reflect on all that has transpired these past 365 days, I marvel at how much life I have lived and how God has been there pursuing my heart throughout it all. Allow me to share some of my favorite moments from the past year, in Christmas letter format.

In January, I joined an ongoing clinical trial in San Francisco in hopes of helping to find a cure to retinitis pigmentosa. Around the same time I published my very first book, a short story about my journey towards a new faith as I lose my vision. The book didn't do terribly well, but I put my story bravely out there and it touched lives. I am inexplicably grateful for the experience and the opportunity to tell others my story, a story that is still very much in the infantile stages. If you have read my book, I would love to hear what you thought of it and how it touched your life.

Also in January, I traveled with my then-fiancé to X Games Aspen to watch him compete. One year later, after squeezing in a few more work trips to France and Switzerland, Nick is saying goodbye to professional snowboarding. The transition he has made this past year has been difficult, but he has handled each change with grace and incredible faith. More to come on that later. On that note...

Marrying my best friend in May was not only the pinnacle highlight of this year (obviously) but also my life. Deciding to elope was not easy for this bride, but Nick and I had an epic wedding day that perfectly synchronized with our hearts and style. Ironically, our elopement went viral. Green Wedding Shoes just ranked our elopement the #1 wedding of 2013, with my Mara Hoffman for Free People gown making the top dress list for the year as well. Pretty blown away, and so encouraged to see the many couples that we have since inspired to elope.

Since we did choose to elope, Nick and I used the cash we would have spent on a big blowout wedding on two big blowout honeymoons instead. We love traveling together so it just made sense. Right after our wedding we went to a romantic all-inclusive resort on the Caribbean in Mexico, then a few months later we went to the Canary Islands and Morocco. While we were in Morocco, there was a death in my family and Nick got deathly ill. God restored, God led us through. These trips, not to mention our many road trips up and down the west coast (all sans car trouble, if you can believe it), will forever be imprinted on my heart. Have I mentioned how grateful I am?

Getting married has changed me. I don't have an idealistic, borderline idolatrous view of marriage anymore; I am working to be more independent and become secure in my identity in Christ instead of who I'm with, or how many people follow me on social media, or what I look like. As Rick Warren wisely stated in a sermon I watched him preach a few weeks ago, never base your identity on something you can lose. Marriage has made me realize who I really am, not just who I project myself to be or even believe myself to be. It is incredibly humbling and difficult; that whole "choose joy" mantra got a lot harder in the last year. I am more secure in myself than I ever have been, and simultaneously more aware than ever before of the work God wants to do in me. I rejoice in His love and grace.

Additionally this past year, I helped out with the Justice Conference in Philadelphia with an incredible team of people from Artists Inspiring Action and Rooftop 519, spoke at a conference for the first time, got a weave, took a bus to New York City for a day, rode my bike across the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time, learned how to snowboard, got into healthy living and eating which has changed me forever, was brought to Shanghai by Ford for their #MustangInspires Instagram campaign coinciding with the release of the 2015 Mustang, hiked up mountains and volcanos up and down the West Coast, learned how to make latte art, hosted many friends and family in our home, fell in love with cooking, sold dozens of paintings in galleries and cafes all across Seattle, and a few days ago was featured in this Buzzfeed article. This year I was blessed to travel to 11 states in the US and 4 continents outside the US.

I slowly read through the New Testament this past year, the first time I've ever done so. I finished Revelation this morning. Throughout my reading, throughout the ups and downs this year, the verse that has echoed throughout my heart again and again has been 2 Corinthians 5:17. I think it fits perfectly with the theme of New Years:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come!


xo LLV