Recently in our young adult Bible study, Dustin read about Jesus’ birth in Luke 2. In this account, there were shepherds who heard about Jesus from angels and went to see Him. Verses 18 and 19 say, “And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.” There was great hoopla!

And yet, “…Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

Google defines the word “ponder” this way – “think about (something) carefully, especially before making a decision or reaching a conclusion.” It also provides synonyms, which include contemplate, consider, review…and overthink. Mary really was just one of the girls, wasn’t she? Isn’t that so like us normal moms? Some major stuff is going on, but we find ourselves over in the corner overthinking.

All joking aside, this struck me as Dustin was reading. Truth be told, I was pondering, and probably missing the point of wherever the lesson was leading. All I could think about was the past year, and how quiet I’ve been about it all. I tried to write more, but I found myself in wonder most of the time, trying to wrap my head around it all.

Last December, Dustin surprised me with a three night stay at a beautiful little cabin in the woods of Hocking Hills, Ohio. He knew that turning thirty was a huge deal for me (In a positive way, unlike for some other women. I might write about that sometime) and that our time as a family of three would be ending soon. He’d saved his money in secret for months to give me a birthday and “babymoon” trip all wrapped into one. It was SO sweet, and the trip was incredibly invigorating.

We spent a whole day hiking in nature, as the weather was unseasonably warm.

We also spent a day exploring Columbus and the surrounding area. There was so much art to take in. 

The murals in Columbus made me ache for painting on walls!

The galleries in Columbus were wonderful.

We toured a glass museum in Lancaster and got to see a glass blowing demonstration.

We also ate some really good, and some really weird, food.

Diamond Jim’s Pizza in Lancaster was a fun place to eat. Hot dogs and coleslaw on a pizza? Well, I was pregnant. Move along.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream in Columbus lived up to its name!

I really cannot imagine a better vacation. Dustin managed to wrap all my favorite things into one trip. My heart was so full. Truth be told, I would actually call this trip life changing.

In our downtime at the cabin, I read through most of Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World, a book written by Tsh Oxenreider. It was poetic how this book coincided with our trip. Tsh writes about her life, her family, her career, her sense of adventure. She encourages readers to live fully. She told stories of living abroad and traveling on a dime. It’s one of those books that had my chest tight with excitement, because it confirmed everything that I’d hoped…adventure as a mother is possible and even necessary.

One of my favorite quotes is from Howard Thurman:

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

This book…this trip…it made me COME ALIVE.

During our time together, Dustin and I dreamed together about filling our lives and our kids’ lives with adventure. We fell in love with hiking and decided to make sure our kids saw more of the world through camping. We’ve chosen to live a simple, quiet life, so sometimes that means we don’t have the means to fancy vacations. However, we’ve determined not to let that stop us from widening our kids’ perspectives.

Soaking up all the beauty of creation and art, I reached a new level of courage to do the things that matter to me. I became determined to take my art more seriously, and to make a real go at legitimizing Milly Becoming Wilder as a creative brand.

Maybe Dustin thought he was being romantic, but he was walking me to Frost’s two diverging roads in the woods. He has been encouraging me to follow the path less traveled for years, and this sweet getaway was the catalyst for finally doing so.

In the past twelve months, I have created more art than I did in the decade prior combined. I didn’t get rich or become a famous artist…but I did do something I really REALLY care about on a regular basis, and that’s made all the difference. It’s made me better, happier, more complete. On this blog, I talk about overcoming fear, and that has been the definition of 2016. I wanted to give up at least a hundred times since I started my new art shop, but I’m so glad I didn’t. If I had, I would be ending 2016 the same way I had so many years before, wishing I’d started and stuck with something I really cared about.

Most importantly, Dustin and I brought a sweet baby girl into the world this year, and we kept good on our promises to each other. Sweet Hosanna has already had so much adventure in her 7.5 months. We’ve taken the kids tent camping twice this year, and we’ve made so many good memories! Their childhood is so fleeting, so I’m thrilled when I look back over this year and recall all the sweet times we had with them (even that one time I took them camping for a night by myself and they didn’t sleep…I won’t be doing that again anytime soon, though!).

I’m a mess. I’m a flake, at times. My life is definitely not all together. But at 31, I can definitely say that I’m living more fully and more adventurously than I did at 21.

I know the direction I’m planning to take my artwork in 2017, but I’m not sure exactly what this blog will look like. In the past, I wrote regularly, whether I had something to say or not. I don’t think I want to do that in the future. When I’ve had time to ponder life, I will share the lessons that God is teaching me. I’m thankful to everyone who has walked down this winding path with me. Hopefully this blog will continue to be source of encouragement to you!

Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Here’s to more adventures in 2017!