Last night, before the countdown to 2016, Jacob and I compiled a brief year-in-review. 2015 is a year for the history books, folks. 

Did you have a theme for 2015? Or a commitment, or a dream, or a resolution? How did it shape your year? How did it help you grow? My theme for the year was “flourishing”. It is hard to conceive of a year of greater flourishing than 2015. The theme—and the people who held me to it—encouraged me to take risks, some small, some large. Flourishing encouraged me to read again. To exercise my voice and sing, to exercise my body and strengthen, to explore spiritual practices and expand. To move out of my comfort zone. To try to do a few things greatly and stop trying to do everything shabbily. To enjoy. To be present.

Now, a theme for 2016… still working on it.



  • Jacob became an adjunct professor of philosophy at Moody and scrambled to finish PhD applications.
  • Trip to Milwaukee and the most epic surprise: a spy bar. Honey Pig. Sprechers. The Packers lost the playoffs and Milwaukee was plunged into mourning.
  • Jacob adopted a vegetarian diet.
  • Annie and Faith started a weekly workout commitment and it was epic.


  • First day: a wicked snow storm buried Chicago.
  • More snow.
  • Annie took up handlettering again, thanks to Rachelle.
  • More snow.
  • Visited Michigan and the Quicks.
  • More snow.


  • Jacob officiated his childhood best friend’s wedding.
  • Dallas and friends.
  • Museum of Modern Art, Chicago.
  • Annie launched work flow mapping initiative in IMC.
  • The Great Purge of 2015, inspired by The Japanese Art of Tidying, compelled the commune to shed three carloads full of crap.
  • Jake received an acceptance letter from KU Leuven. We all laughed. Belgium seemed impossible.


  • The commune hosted Easter: Josh, Faith, Nate, Carrie, Jacob, Annie, Meghan, Kate, Ana, Patti, John, Caleb.
  • Meghan’s photography class yielded some beautiful portraits and albums.
  • The kitties met The Furminator, and their lives were forever changed.


  • Annie and Katie attended the SLAM Gala.
  • Jacob earned his Master of Arts in Philosophy from Northern Illinois University.
  • NEW ORLEANS. Ten days in the Big Easy, compliments of John and Patti, celebrating the honeymoon we planned but never executed. Salvo’s crawfish, Hansen’s sno-bliz, swamp tour alligators, Café du Monde, Camellia Grill, Algiers, Garden District, Commander’s Palace $0.25 martinis, French Market, stogies and strolls.
  • Jake started working for Spiegelberg Landscape Design.


  • Meghan departed for her summer in Europe, studying abroad.
  • We thought that Europe sounded good and decided to move to Belgium.
  • Annie read The Cloister Walk. Decided to become a nun. Too late.
  • Annie began her copywriting career instead, thanks to the benevolence of her kindly editorial manager Kevin and the team at IMC.
  • Hunger Walk Chicago.


  • Jake’s relatives, the Masseys, visited and fell in love with Chicago. Everyone does.
  • Renegade Lightning Rebellion final concert.
  • Art Institute with Melissa. Sweet memories, sweet wine.
  • July 12 and Annie celebrated two years without hospitalization or surgery.
  • Annie and Faith are bonded for life: tattoos together.
  • The Knapps visited us in Michigan. We met Ellie and celebrated Matt’s birthday.
  • Meghan returned from Europe with a million memories to share.


  • Grand Rapids meet up with Krista.
  • One wild road trip to Virginia: Josh, Jake, Annie and Meghan rotating drivers throughout the night.
  • Tangier Island.
  • Outerbanks, NC
  • August 15: after nearly two and a half years, the commune dissolved… into tears. Twenty-four hours of laborious moving in adverse conditions against all odds, we beat our move-out deadline with one hour to spare. We said goodbye to the friends who became our family and shipped our kitties off to a foster family.
  • Nomadic living commenced for Jacob and Annie, with a grand total of six weeks of couch surfing for Annie and two weeks for Jake.
  • So many farewells.
  • August 30 Jake departed for Belgium.


  • Jake settled into Leuven life, registered for classes, bought some plates and set up home on J. P. Minckelersstraat. He battled bureaucracy and won.
  • Annie couch surfed. And couch surfed. And couch surfed. Who knew that there were so many hospitable people willing to share their couches?


  • Annie took a quick trip Virginia.
  • Annie took a quick trip to Wisconsin. The Covenant Women’s Retreat provided the perfect bookend to three years of blessing at Covenant Presbyterian Church of Chicago.
  • Annie took a quick trip to Michigan. Farewell to the Quicks. Lots of last minute packing.
  • Annie took a quick trip to New York. Farewell to the Bolgers.
  • Annie took a quick trip to Iceland. Just kidding—it was a layover.
  • October 11 and finally, Jacob and Annie reunited in Belgium.
  • Jake and Annie took a quick trip to Brussels.


  • Jake landed a copy editing job.
  • Annie landed a child care job.
  • Jake and Annie discovered that they are ambiverts. Thanks for the self-discovery helps, Faith.
  • Thanksgiving abroad sucked. We didn’t like it and we were lonely.


  • Wintertijd brought light, life, clarity and calling.
  • Dear friends welcomed babies and others delivered good tidings of expectation.
  • Leuven and the old convent by candlelight.
  • Parables and Pilgrimage at St Martha and Mary.
  • Christmas in Germany with Martha and Tyler.