It’s February, a full two months since I saw the first “looking back at the year” posts.

(Can I just encourage you? You are not behind. Or perhaps you are, but it’s not so big a deal.)


In hopes to examine life rather than just letting it pass, here are some big things looking back…

My high and low for the year were both babies: mine, a rainbow baby born healthy in July and my sister’s born only a little too early and already gone in October. I am learning (still and again and likely forever) to walk in the tension between joy and grief. 2016 was full of both. I learned that grief is bigger than I remembered and God’s grace is bigger still.

I learned that writing makes me a kinder human, a worse housekeeper, and it’s way more fun when I am in community with other people who are better (if messier) when they’re writing. I got to meet a lot of my writer friends in real life last year, and it was beautiful.

I learned that flossing in the shower is idiot-proof. Or at least me-proof. And also that I can write things like “flossing in the shower” on the internet and hit publish and I will not actually die of the embarrassment when I decide to tell you, my sweet readers, about my dental hygiene habits as if it were of great interest.


I read a bunch of books this year. Some of them kinda blew my mind. Here’s a good handful of my favorites:


Rising Strong

Brené Brown doesn’t disappoint. (Really, ever.) When we live wholehearted, sometimes we fail. This is about what to do then.


All the Light we Cannot See

I feel like I’m behind on this, but it was a huge, fat book and I could. not. put. it. down. Or, actually, I could. (It was written in short segments, so I could read in the cracks of my day without losing continuity of the story, making it an ideal mom book.) Beautifully written story.


Wild in the Hollow

Gorgeous prose, thought provoking memoir of a lady who loves Jesus and is just a little unconventional.


Better than Before

This fit perfectly with my year of small habits, because it was about… habits. If you’re interested in figuring out how to make changes that help and that stick, this is a good one to read.


The Princess Bride

I almost didn’t include this because I’ve read it before. But you know what? I’m gonna. Because it’s AWESOME. I love the movie still, but love the book even more. Hilarity and brilliance and everything fun. Be advised: if you consume any liquids while reading this book, they are somewhat likely to shoot painfully from your nose in sudden fit of uncontrollable laughter.


Love Does

Just read it, okay? I think I’ve loaned this out six times since I read it a year ago. This was my actual favorite from the year- he uses fantastic stories from his life to challenge and enlarge my ideas of what it means to love like Jesus loves.

Top posts (according to my stats)

dear Christians: Trump is not the Savior of America was written on no sleep and a lot of election night angst. Milestone: this post is the first of mine to get some actual mean feedback. So, you know. Read at your own risk. It’s evidently “poorly written and misinformed.” A few months past election and a few weeks past inauguration, I stand by it. I’m not convinced that Trump is particularly worse than Clinton would have been, nor that he’s particularly better. 2016 really was a decision between two embarrassingly awful options. But I remain certain that the “Christian Right” must not equate his policies and stances with God’s best for America.

to the girl in the dress fell out of my fingers by mistake when I was trying to write something else. I so dearly wish young me could have had the perspective of the last 12 years.

getting my body back (also, that time I was nude on the interwebs.) Every time I write about body image, my stats explode. This isn’t a comment on my writing, I don’t think, so much as on culture. We are all DYING for someone to say out loud that the expectations culture puts on our bodies are RIDICULOUS. Because they ARE. We are strong. We are lovely.

What did you learn in 2016?

photo credit: Sarah Lewis Photography

Published by robininalaska

Robin Chapman is a part-time writer, editor, and birth photographer and a full-time imperfect mama, wife, Jesus follower, and normalizer of failure. She’s trying hard to learn how to do this motherhood thing in a way that doesn’t land the whole family in intensive therapy. She has a heart for helping other mamas buried in the little years with hope, humor, and solidarity. You can find her hiding out in the bathroom with an iced dirty chai, writing and editing and making spreadsheets for where she is a cheerleader for mamas, or online looking for grace in her mundane and weird life. She lives in Fairbanks, Alaska with her four delightful (crazy) kids—some homeschooled, some public schooled, some too young for school at all—and her ridiculously good looking husband, Andrew.

Join the Conversation


  1. All the loves and likes. ’16 was quite the year! I’m sure ’17 will be equally riveting, if in different ways. Thanks for writing and letting the house go so we can share your life. My life is improved by it!


  2. Yes! Yes! Yes!

    But can I say that I have NOT *read* The Princess Bride. I mean it has not even crossed my mind! 😳 So that is immediately going on the list. 😉


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