Do You Remember to Look Back?

Tomorrow is hubby’s and my 4th anniversary. *throws confetti*

It doesn’t sound like that long but we have done so much in that short amount of time — much more than we ever imagined we’d do. Every year for our anniversary, I give him a framed photo of us that lists all the things we’ve done in the past year. Guys…we’ve done SO MUCH!


This year, as I put together the photo, I read back over the other three and basically slumped in my chair in awe. You all know my books are about pursuing God and pursuing life. Three weeks before our wedding, Daylen and I got baptized together and we committed our lives to following God together. Now, today, I look back and see what He did with it.

So I thought I’d share where God’s taken us in the past four years. These are the lists I’ve made over the years (sorry if some points don’t make sense.) Also, I’d like to encourage you to look back your life and see where He’s taken you in the past year. Make a bullet point list like me! And, if you want, share it in the comments. 🙂


  • Traveled to San Francisco and Mammoth Mountain
  • DSCN8086Daylen snowboarded for the first time.
  • Ate the best meal of our lives!
  • Led a Christian Campus House Grow Trip to Passion 2012 (Georgia)
  • Nadine graduated with her Master’s Degree!
  • Started reading the Harry Potter Series to hubby
  • Hubby led a Grow Trip to Joplin, MO.
  • Road-tripped to Wyoming from Missouri
  • Started our Snowboard boardercross quest.
  • Made homemade vanilla extract for the first time.
  • Flew to California for Omi’s 80th birthday, visited the Cabin, Daylen tried water skiing!
  • Joined Christian Campus House on a spring break to the Smoky Mountains.
  • Made our first house into a wonderful cozy  home.


  • We led a Grow Trip to Joplin, MO together. I learned house mudding and how to lay tile.
  • Daylen rode a snowmachine (snowmobile) for the first time.
  • IMG_2240We finished reading through the Harry Potter Series together.
  • Raced snowboarding. Went to National Championships!
  • Nadine finished writing the first full draft of A Time to Die.
  • Moved to Idaho.
  • Nadine started her freelance editing business.
  • Traveled a LOT (wedding in Cali, Joplin, California x3, Bahamas)
  • Daylen helped start Table Rock Christian School.
  • Nadine got contracted with Marcher Lord Press.
  • Sold Vanilla at the Farmer’s Market.
  • Daylen picked his first huckleberries.
  • We sailed night and day on a 44-ft sailboat from NC to the Bahamas.
  • Daylen learned to scuba dive!
  • We found and claimed two huckleberry patches.


  • Started hosting a youth game night at hour house.
  • Worked as cabin leaders at Old Faithful Christian Ranch.
  • Finished first year of Table Rock Christian School!
  • A Time to Die RELEASED!
  • Nadine signed with an agent. (*squeal*)
  • IMG_4532Daylen got Scuba certified and we dove together in a volcanic crater in Utah…in winter.
  • Daylen attended two Royals vs. Giants World Series games!
  • We met the Oplev Family from Russia. <3
  • God revealed some of our purpose for being in Idaho.
  • Took over 5 road trips (Missouri x3, California, Idaho, Salt Lake)
  • Went to our first Biola Reunion get-together.
  • Learned how to walk a slackline.
  • Nadine finally met the last of Daylen’s brothers.
  • Visited Wizarding World of Harry Potter! *drool*
  • Nadine finished writing the first full draft of A Time to Speak.


  • Nadine went through the Panama Canal!
  • IMG_6013We visited Russia! (Nadine spoke at a women’s conference, Hubby taught a baseball clinic and met with pastors.
  • Nadine went to the Realm Makers Conference (finally!)
  • We hunted morel mushrooms in Idaho and Nadine found her first morel ever!
  • We went to Royals Opening Day game. 🙂
  • Scuba dove in freezing Pacific waters…in our own scuba gear!
  • Daylen led a team to Russia (again) and taught a week-long baseball clinic.
  • Nadine explored heritage and Europe on a mother + sisters trip. (Iceland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany.)
  • Nadine finished writing A Time to Rise
  • Went dogsledding…for reals. Drove the sleds and everything.
  • Nadine met Francine Rivers!
  • A Time to Speak RELEASED!
  • Nadine won the Carol Award. *overwhelmed*


I am overwhelmed looking back at our lives. Everything changed when God introduced me to my fellow adventurer, Daylen. We love to dream, but more than that we love to do. And God has let us aboard his airship and is unrolling the map of adventure.


Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children (Deut 4:9)


Sometimes it’s scary to look back. It’s scary to remember because we all have junk and darkness and bad memories in our pasts. But that’s why I make a list of the amazing things. I keep the list as the year goes along and revisit it frequently. “Wait, that all happened just this year?”

So what are some amazing things God’s done in your life this last year? Share one (or all!) of them below.



About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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  1. Happy anniversary! That’s so exciting!

    Making a list of every good thing that happened is a great idea. My year has been scattered with some not-so-great memories, but it’s okay. This year:

    I started faith-blogging after three years of considering it.
    I became acquainted with the world of indie publishing and beta read/alpha read/edited five books.
    I started college in high school.
    I surfed.
    I went to a 3-day Christian music festival.
    I started taking karate.
    I’ve gotten to sing and play piano for different churches.

    Everything that is so small this year has changed me in so many different ways. Even though the tough times, God has guided me and opened up so many opportunities that I couldn’t have imagined.

    • Thanks Amanda!

      I think every year has its own handful of not-so-great memories, which is one reason I really enjoy this activity. When I look back at the list from four years ago, I don’t remember the negative things. 😀

      I love your list! Thank you for sharing! Karate sounds fun! And I’ve always wanted to surfing. 😀

  2. Happy anniversary!! 🙂

  3. Happy Anniversary! Sounds like you already had a lot of adventure under your belt (“Daylen snowboarded, scuba dived, etc for the first time.”). Obviously a match made in heaven 🙂 I knew my husband was the one because he, too, despises onions, LOL!
    Unless there’s more than one crater in Utah, I believe we visited it last year. Really cool! (We just observed, coming upon it on our travels).

  4. This is a great idea! I’ve read through my prayer journal a few times on New Years Eve and it was amazing to see what God had brought me through.
    A few good things from 2015:

    Took a college class for the 1st time
    Began teaching Sunday school for 1st time
    Was in play (Pride&Prejudice) for 1st time
    Read books on writing fiction (by Jeff Gerke) for 1st time
    Waited in hospital while my little nephew was born 🙂

    Thanks for letting me share! God has been very good! 🙂

  5. These lists are amazing, Nadine! Happy Anniversary!
    I’ve been thinking about all the things I’ve learned this year, and was thinking I should write a letter to myself… fifteen years in the future. Unfortunately, I don’t have a place I could put the letter where I’d be sure I had it then.
    A list… Hmm… My memory is horrible, so most of these things will be recent. xP

    I read A Time to Die and A Time to Speak, and that impacted me a lot… More than I ever would have expected before I read it.
    I finished my first rough draft of a novel!
    Wrote 50,000 words for the first time in one novel.
    Started going to church again. (Which sounds small, but for the past couple years, we’ve been switching churches, and for a couple months, not going to church at all.)
    Drew one of my own characters for the first time. xP
    Read the New Testament all the way through (and I’m working through the Old Testament).
    Got baptized! 🙂
    Got a Goodreads account.
    Started going to a Bible Study.
    Started volunteering at church.
    Started Algebra 2.
    Fangirled for the first time!

    … I’m sure there’s more, but… I have a horrible memory. xP

  6. Happy belated anniversary! Awesome lists! And an awesome ideas as well.

    My hubby and I used to do this a little when we first got married, and then we’d list what our goals and desires were for the new year. But then we stopped. Not sure why but perhaps it was because of some hard times and it seemed like the dreams were taking forever to happen. (Okay, 6 years really isn’t that long before we had our first baby, but by then I had given that up. But God knew what he was doing!) (And we didn’t get a place of our own until almost 10 years later.)

    I might have to start this list idea up again. It is good to reflect on where we’ve been and what God has done. It is so easy to forget and get all mired in the mud.

    For 2015…

    Ran (okay, walked-jogged) my first 5K
    went to a ladies retreat for the first time ever & for the first time being away from my kiddos.
    moved all my stories under my imprint
    Got a new desk!
    Sister & her kids came to visit
    Traveled to St. Louis

I love hearing from you!