100 Things That Made My Year 2016

       I should get this out in the open right away: I am a man of lists.

       I love lists. I make a shopping list anytime my assignment has three or more items. I make to-do lists for my day. I keep lists of books I read, books I want to read, miles I’ve run or biked, summits I’ve hiked, blood pressure and heartrate measurements, body weight, passwords, calendars (which are lists in graph form), goals and dreams, and, as you can see, lists of lists.

       So last January, when I read Austin Kleon’s newsletter where he included his “100 Things That Made My Year,” I knew I wanted to play, too. I was hooked immediately. I wanted to remind myself of the best that happened.

       This is my second year to make a list of things that made my year. (Here is my list from 2014.) I hope to make fifty more before I’m finished.

       Why bother, you might ask. Because we need to remind ourselves of the good things, the grace-filled things, the influential things, the things that make us human. We don’t need any help remembering the worst things that happened, but we need to be intentional about remembering the best. Not because we are forgetful, but because The Enemy steals them from our memory.

       Living with gratitude is the secret sauce for a meaningful life, and this exercise of listing people, events, and things that made the year better is a powerful move toward having a habitually thankful heart. I’m encouraging you to put together your own list, and don’t stop until you can identify at least 100 things. You may have to find help in order to remember the best, so dig out your journals, comb through your calendars, review your reading lists and music purchases, and ask those who are close to you. I won’t be easy, but is worth the effort.

       And when you do, I hope you share. A big part of imbedding gratitude in your life is making it known.

       (By the way, this list has been randomly sorted using the mathematical magic of Excel)


1.        Book: A Resilient Life, by Gordan MacDonald

2.        Branding calves with Cyndi and her cousins

3.        Christmas morning with our granddaughters; awakened by the shout, “He came, Santa came!”

4.        Realizing that my gifts and calling are not for me, not for my own benefit, and are worthless unless I share them.

5.        My first long-awaited hug from Lillie

6.        Book: The Geography of Genius, by Eric Weiner

7.        The Instrumental Convergence in Tyler, Texas

8.        James Taylor concert in Lubbock, Texas

9.        Granddaughter Landry singing “Let it Go” with reckless and wild abandon in my living room.

10.     Bill Britt with Integrity Massage – he keeps me walking straight

11.     Running at sunrise near the Sea of Galilee

12.     New leather (grown-up) messenger bag

13.     Song: Aretha in the Morning

14.     Going to Israel with Cyndi

15.     On Galveston Beach with family

16.     My Panama hat (I want so much to be a “hat man”)

17.     Running on the Winsor Trail in the Santa Fe National Forest

18.     Hiking McKittrick Canyon with the Compass Class

19.     Movie: The Martian

20.     Listening to old Jim Rohn lectures again

21.     Cyndi testifying in court of her desire to “guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride.”

22.     Sitting with Cory on the back row of orchestra

23.     Playing with MC Jazz band

24.     Learning to run, again

25.     Dancing with Cyndi at Wes’ birthday party

26.     Base Camp Gathering in Colorado

27.     Voting for my first write-in candidate, ever

28.     Finishing (my) Book #4 … Trail Markers

29.     My new Squarespace website

30.     Rappelling at Bear Trap Ranch

31.     Calling Intensive with Noble Heart Ministries, at our house in Midland

32.     Energel Liquid Gel Ink Metal Tip 0.7mm ball pens

33.     Praying at the Western Wall

34.     Playing in the orchestra with Cyndi

35.     Christmas lights in the yard instead of on the roof

36.     Summiting Truchas Peak (13,100’) for the second time, but the first time with new knees

37.     Byron’s graduation; he is a fine young man and I couldn’t be prouder to be his dad.

38.     60th birthday party with so many friends

39.     Book: My Grandfather’s Blessings, by Rachel Naomi Remen

40.     Book: The World According to G, by Geraint Thomas

41.     Wrangler Relaxed-Fit jeans

42.     Reading my Daily Bible

43.     Book: Shut-up Legs, by Jens Voigt

44.     Singing near the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

45.     Dak Prescott & Ezekiel Elliott

46.     Rock cairns

47.     Movie: Muppets Christmas Carol

48.     Arriving at Pecos Baldy Lake with Daryl

49.     Quote: "True greatness requires a long obedience in the same direction." (Bono on B.B. King)

50.     Cycling with the bike club in July (I chased the fast flatbellies until I bonked)

51.     Remembering George Koehl

52.     Spicy Southwest Chicken Salad with Chili Lime Vinaigrette at Chick-fil-A

53.     Movie: Star Trek Beyond

54.     USGS Bench Mark paperweight from John-Mark Echols

55.     Cyndi Simpson in yoga pants

56.     Updating my 100 Life Goals when I turned 60

57.     Dreaming again of long distance hikes and rides

58.     Listening to audio books with Cyndi

59.     Quote: “We are taught more about how to care for our cars than how to steward our souls. But you cannot have an impactful life with an impoverished soul.” (John Ortberg)

60.     Running on the beach in Galveston

61.     Book: Target Tokyo, by James Scott

62.     Midland Storytelling Festival

63.     Turning 60 (full of hopes, dreams, goals, missions)

64.     Sharing lunch on a mountainside at 13,000’ with Clark and John-Mark

65.     Quote: “If you receive teaching but don’t pass it along, you are stealing.” (Linda Spackman)

66.     Backpacking the South Rim of Chisos Basin

67.     Iron Men – the finest group of men I know

68.     TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry

69.     Movie: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

70.     BLT sandwiches at Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen in Santa Fe

71.     Surrounded my so many men of God

72.     Watching the Summer Olympics

73.     Twila Tharp lecture in Midland

74.     Backpacking with 15 men in the Pecos Wilderness

75.     Working with my editor, Bob Hartig

76.     Forge #1, Iron Men retreat

77.     Dad cracking jokes in the emergency room

78.     Riding bicycles with granddaughter Madden

79.     I’m finally old enough to wear jeans 7 days a week

80.     Sunday afternoon naps

81.     Coffee with John and Tammy Worley in Tiberius, Israel

82.     Cyndi’s homemade green tomato relish

83.     Waking up and smelling the desert rain at Casa Wilma, in Marathon, Texas

84.     James Lovell lecture at Midland College

85.     Movie: Jason Bourne

86.     Summiting Guadalupe Peak again (my 17th time on top, but first time with new knees)

87.     Reading Austin Kleon’s newsletter

88.     Playing Words With Friends, with friends

89.     Toyota Tacoma pick-up; it just makes me happy to drive it

90.     Shuttling Linda Spackman to and from the airport

91.     Quote: “Every good hike brings you eventually back home. Right where you started.” (Edward Abbey)

92.     Cycling with my dad on his 88th birthday

93.     Book: The Martian, by Andy Weir

94.     Discovering a singer: Rumer

95.     Playing trombone with the Global Missions Project Celebration Orchestra

96.     100K bike ride with cycling club, first big test of my new knees

97.     The young families from Compass Class

98.     Keep Exploring

99.     The excellent young men who joined me in Journey Groups

100.  Regular phone visits with my brother


“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32