100 Things That Made My Year in 2017

       It should come as no surprise that 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, goals and dreams, and, as you can see, lists of lists. I agree with the sentiments of Sheldon Cooper, who said, “If there were a list of things that make me more comfortable, lists would be at the top of that list.”

       This is my third year to make a list of things that made my year. I hope to make fifty more annual lists like this one before I’m finished. I want to continually remind myself of the best that happens


       The world we live in is scary enough; we don’t need to be reminded. But we do need to remind ourselves of the good things that happen, the grace-filled things, the influential things, the things that make us human. Not just because we are lazy and forgetful, but because the Enemy steals them from our memory.

       Living with gratitude is the secret to 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 encourage 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. It won’t be easy, but it’s 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. Trying to decide which item is more important than the others is paralyzing.)

1.     Leaving the trailhead at Durango for a 40-day through-hike of the Colorado Trail

2.     Book: The Tummy Trilogy, by Trillin Calvin

3.     Playing in the FBC orchestra with Cyndi

4.     Somebody kept sneaking Honey Buns into my pickup and my closet and my life

5.     When friends send me photos of rock cairns

6.     Reading my Bible near the early-morning glass-smooth lake water at Granbury

7.     The hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness, in the Villa Nueva Church, Guatemala

8.     Dancing with Cyndi at the Los Lonely Boys concert in front of the whole city of Midland

9.     Cracking jokes with my dad up until he passed away

10.  Memorial service for Deane Simpson, who passed away March 31, 2017

11.  My favorite booths at Whataburger

12.  Wrangler Relaxed-Fit jeans

13.  Reading my Daily Bible

14.  Byron’s brisket chile rellenos at Thanksgiving

15.  Iron Men FORGE retreat in Junction

16.  The term, trans-generational; it’s how I want to live

17.  Watching Cyndi play the congas

18.  Base Camp Gathering in Colorado

19.  Celebrating 14,000 days of marriage to Cyndi Simpson

20.  Kevin riding his long board

21.  Working with Tamarack Petroleum

22.  Taking family photos in Mansfield

23.  Cycling the hilly roads around Tesuque New Mexico

24.  Nick Conn, my trombone teacher

25.  Book: The Last Arrow, by Erwin McManus

26.  Climbing stairs at my office in the mornings; it’s exhausting, but victorious

27.  Singing with Cyndi on the ski lift

28.  Watching the movie Muppets Christmas Carol November 1st

29.  Specialized Tarmac Elite bicycle

30.  Taking trombone lessons for the first time since 1976

31.  Learning how to use OneDrive

32.  Hearing (reading) my essay on NPR

33.  Chicago concert in Midland with my brother Carroll

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

35.  Book: Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown

36.  Salomon XA Comp trailrunners

37.  Cyndi flirting with me.

38.  Speaking at MOPS with Cyndi

39.  Watching granddaughter Madden be baptized

40.  Rappelling with Daryl Jensen at Bear Trap Ranch

41.  Quote: “I am not preoccupied with collecting more goods and services; quite simply, my desire and effort - every day - is to pay back, to give back to the world a bit of what I have received.” (Richard Rohr, Falling Upward)

42.  Summiting Guadalupe Peak again (my 18th time on top, second time with new knees)

43.  Playing with MC Jazz band

44.  Cyndi reading from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever in our adult Bible class

45.  Book: The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, by James Martin

46.  Listening to audio books with Cyndi on long road trips

47.  Cycling with Daryl on Sunday afternoons

48.  Traveling with the smallest two suitcases in the group

49.  Catching up with the Harry Potter movement, only twenty years after everyone else

50.  Quote: “It’s your own responsibility to keep your own bucket filled, to identify streams of replenishing energy that will take you from a depleted state to where your tank is filled to the brim and overflowing.” (Bill Hybels, Simplify)

51.  Keith Skaar’s story about his family connection to my family

52.  Book: Falling Upward, by Richard Rohr

53.  Our full tribe of clever, intelligent, and Godly friends

54.  Movie: Hidden Figures

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

56.  Book: Finishing Well, by Bob Buford

57.  Katie decorating cookies; making the world a happier place

58.  Hiking Hunter Peak with Chad and Clark

59.  Dreaming of another Colorado Trail attempt in summer 2019

60.  Commuting to work on my bike

61.  Quote: “To be a contemplative is to learn to trust deep time and to learn how to rest there and not be wrapped up in chronological time.” (Richard Rohr, Falling Upward)

62.  Carving the Thanksgiving turkey – it feels so patriarchal

63.  Music concert in our house with Mathew Clark

64.  Cyndi Simpson in yoga pants

65.  Tiny old Guatemalan women huggng my neck and saying “Gracias” after the New Year’s Eve concert

66.  Dinners with Britt and Patti Pyeatt

67.  Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato sandwiches at Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen in Santa Fe

68.  Talking about music everyday with Bob

69.  Quote: “In the avalanche of sin, grace has abounded through music.” (Manuel Lopez, Coro Philarmonico, Guatemala City)

70.  Watching Cyndi pour her heart, the full weight of her life, into the construction and design of her new yoga studio

71.  Book: Finding God in the Waves, by Mike McHargue

72.  Marmot Precip rain jacket

73.  Regular phone visits with my brother

74.  Movie: The Rewrite

75.  Question: I wonder what my life would be like if I started doing all the things I’m afraid to do?

76.  Playing trombone with the Global Missions Project Metro Big Band

77.  Book: Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg

78.  Holding hands with Cyndi

79.  Hiking McKittrick Canyon with the Compass Class and my granddaughter Madden

80.  Books: The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis

81.  Family ski trip at Santa Fe

82.  Granddaughter Landry in her Super Girl cape and mask, walking boldly into Einstein Bagels, ready to save the world

83.  Played my first two stand-up jazz solos – they were not great, but I was brave enough to risk it

84.  Quote: “Once you believe that it’s possible, and you start working toward it, it becomes inevitable.” (Alex Honnold, NPR All Things Considered (after free-soloing El Capitan))

85.  Sitting with Cory on the back row of orchestra

86.  Clark’s stories from his time in England

87.  Movie: Dunkirk

88.  Book: Isaac's Storm, by Erik Larson

89.  Cyndi dancing with audience members at the Arkadia Mall in Guatemala City

90.  Cyndi’s homemade apple pie at Thanksgiving

91.  Book: Simplify, by Bill Hybells

92.  My Panama hat (I want so much to be a “Hat Man”)

93.  Midland Storytelling Festival

94.  Abandoning the Colorado Trail only  a week after I began due to altitude issues, disappointed yet knowing it was the right thing to do

95.  My life verse, 1 Corinthians 15:3 … “For what I have received I passed on to you as of first importance”

96.  Movie, About Time

97.  Movie: Begin Again

98.  Black fleece pullover

99.  My brother, Carroll, reengaging with his drums

100.         Running on the Trinity River Trail in Ft. Worth