Top five things I want to do before I die? Own a coffee shop, live in a foreign country, publish a book, scuba dive with manta rays, play in a rock band.
Top three favorite ways to consume caffeine? Coffee with cream, plain latte, Earl Grey tea with steamed milk.
Top ten best moments of 2011? Well, since you asked...
10. Riding a roller coaster in Wildwood, New Jersey, after more than 15 years of swearing I'd never again ride one. It was definitely a breakthrough. And I even liked it. A nod to Jer for his smooth trickery to get me on board.
9. Making a fancy Easter dinner and enjoying it with my pastor's family. My mom and I decided to go big for this meal. We made a crown roast, which is essentially a rack of ribs rolled into a crown. We stuffed it with apricot stuffing. We made apricot candied carrots and a fancy-schmancy salad. For dessert, I made Oreo cookie salad and a frozen dark chocolate mocha mouse cake. It was a meal we were proud of, but more than that, it was a chance to go crazy in the kitchen out of love for others. Is there anything better than cooking for those you love? It is such a joy.
8. Urban kayaking in Pittsburgh. My friend and I paddled upstream on the Allegheny River from the 5th Street bridge, circled Washington Island, then headed downstream to Point State Park. We rounded the park into the Monongahela River and tagged the Ohio River on our way back. I truly enjoyed paddling in three rivers within two hours and seeing the striking Pittsburgh skyline from our yellow tandem kayak.
7. Jumping on a king-size hotel bed with my best friend as part of her 29 Birthday Wahoos! celebration. We filled an entire weekend with wild and wacky activities--balloons, silly hats, silly string, riding bikes in Wal-Mart--but I must admit I truly, truly enjoyed jumping on the bed. It was one of those beautifully unencumbered moments where you do something for the sheer fun of fun, for the sheer delight of crumpling onto the floor in a heap of laughter with a person you love more than you can express.
6. Fourth of July in Chattanooga, Tennessee. After experiencing a pretty intense situation in the wee morning hours of July 4, I found the beauty, food, coffee, and new friend in this charming city to be a soothing balm for my frazzled emotions. There's something about being alive when you could be dead that makes food and drink taste mighty fine. Thanks to Joel for the restaurant recommendation and the healing conversation.
5. Dinner on the deck with two of my best friends on Labor Day weekend. Sarah and Becky are the kind of friends who fill you with joy by simply being who they are. I say their names and smile because their names are synonymous with grand adventures, uplifting conversations, and sorrows and joys shared. They came to visit me in early September, and we spent our time hiking, coffee-ing, eating ice cream, sauntering through parks, looking forward to the birth of their baby boys (both were in their third trimester), and barbecuing pizza to enjoy on the deck under a starlit Wyoming sky.
4. Coming in at a tie...riding B-Cycles around Denver and eating at Snooze for my 30th birthday in October. I figured turning 30 was something to celebrate in style, so I gathered some of my most favorite people in the world for a weekend of fun in D-town. It was one of my most favorite birthday celebrations ever!
3. Walks and coffee with my mom. I have enjoyed being able to spend so much time with my folks this last year. I have appreciated the many moments of counsel and laughter we've shared. My mom is faithful and practical and loving, and I always enjoy being with her.
2. Climbing Bighorn Peak with my dad. Ever since my first backpacking trip in Alaska, I've been itching to get some gear of my own and head into the hills. My dad joined me in this endeavor, and we enjoyed a couple great trips into the nearby Big Horn Mountains. Thanks for the adventures, Dad!
1. Maria Alana Wiest! I became Aunt Hannah on April 3 when my brother and sister-in-law welcomed their daughter into the world. She is beautiful and sweet-spirited and oh-so-happy. I love her dearly, and I look forward to watching her grow into a woman after God's own heart.
In all honesty, it was difficult to list only ten top moments for 2011. When I think about all the small wonders that fill a day--drinking coffee, chatting with a friend, praying for a missionary, sitting by the fire, gazing upon a starry sky--I feel like I should be able to write a Top 100 list for each and every day. I breathe. I laugh. I move. Even when a day is filled with loss and ache, I am held in the hand of God and can give thanks for His provision of grace.
I hope you can say the same for your 2011. And I wish you a grand new year filled with delights, strength in trials, and an ever-deepening relationship with Jesus. Here's to 2012!