Be a participant.

There needs to be a separation between social media and my personal life. I am realizing this more and more each day as I get older and deeper into my 20’s.

I’ve been thinking about this so much lately. I want there to be something for keeps. I want every single one of us to have something for keeps at the end of each day, something that belongs to only us.

It’s so easy to have something wonderful happen– a job promotion, an engagement, a birthday– and then immediately think, “How can I share this? How can I announce to the world this is happening?”

I don’t think there is necessarily anything wrong with that but when we put it online, we release it from our hands. It is no longer our private moment.


When I have babes, I want to teach them to grab life quickly and furiously. I want them to be proactive. I already have so many big hopes for these nonexistent babes that have nothing to do with the iPhone or the computer screen. I want them to read classic novels. I want them to feel life. I want their little fingers to touch the paper of cookbooks. I want them to go and see the dinosaur bones and build forts. I want them to participate. I want them to know life is something you go and do and see and build and fight for. People are something you live for and die for and work for and sacrifice for. God is someone you dance and sing for. All of the above will make you laugh and go crazy and want to pull your hair out and ultimately trust that this whole thing cannot possibly be an accident. Accidents have never been as beautiful as this.

2017 is an extension of what I began in 2016– the quest to be anything but a spectator of other people’s lives.

Find a way to participate in people’s lives relentlessly. It will be your own fault if you never invest in someone’s life, only watching what they publish on social media. Get them coffee. Make them chili. Listen to their first date stories. Do the inconvenient things because those things always end up meaning the most to others.

“We owe moments of excitement and surprise to our dearest and oldest friends as much as we do to our partners and lovers,” Dolly Alderton wrote. If I could add to that quote then I would write: We owe moments of excitement and surprise to our friends and our dear family more than we do to people on Facebook who never reach out to us anyway.

Lane and I had coffee and apple crisp with another couple last night, Sara and Jonathan. The two were at our wedding three weeks and ago.

“I got a picture of you two on your wedding day as the ceremony was happening,” Sara told us before we left. When Sara says she “got a picture” it means God has downloaded something into her brain, a vision meant to edify and encourage.

Sara proceeded to tell us that her vision included Lane and I standing in the middle of a crowd blowing bubbles. She said at first we were blowing big bubbles and they were very impressive to the crowd. However, the big bubbles popped quickly. Eventually we began blowing these tiny bubbles and the small bubbles floated above the crowd and reached even more people. The smaller bubbles had much more of an impact than the bigger ones.

To me, that translates to influence. We think influence is about blowing the biggest bubbles, doing the most notable things to impress people. In actuality, the things with the most impact are usually the small acts and the tiny, obedient steps the world never sees. They are the times when we are alone, in a quiet room, on our knees and saying “yes” to God.

I’ve been thinking about this blog a lot and how much I adore this little space. I spent some time this morning praying for the people who read me in this space. I think my biggest prayer, biggest ask of you in 2017, is that you would leave comments.

Of course, you don’t need to leave comments but I would love if the comment section was a community space, a place for us to dialogue with one another. That’s my prayer for this blog in 2017– that community would spread through the comments and we would grow closer to understanding one another through simple sentences.

So please, leave a comment today. Tell me where you’re coming from and what is a “small thing” you want to do in 2017 to help other people. I would love to be reading and responding. 

You make life good and you make work fun. Never doubt yourself.

158 thoughts on “Be a participant.

  1. I am in such agreement with you. At my almost 60 years of age, I want to connect more this year. I want to connect with fewer people but at a deeper level. I love to see what my “friends” are doing on facebook but I realize that I need to make more small bubbles and really connect with my FRIENDS!!! Thank you for your reinforcement of that idea.

  2. I am so encouraged by your heart to want to be a participant of life. I have thought about how much I really don’t like being on social media, but I feel like I have to or I’ll miss event invites or how someone’s doing. But I love the picture of smaller bubbles reach more. I am challenged to go out of my way to invest in those who matter to me and not just be a spectator for hours at a day. Gosh, I really love this post and you, HB!

  3. I am a friend/mom/daughter/sister that just took a giant leap. In July, I moved my family and I from our childhood roots in Minnesconsin all the down to Texas. It still has a reeling but we are trying to be brave and adventurous while adjusting our hearts to new family while others were left in MN/WI. In 2017, I want to give away as many “small acts of kindness” as I can. Truth be told, I’ve always thought the little things that make up our daily lives matter the most. I know it’s easy to get caught up in our own little world of happenings. I want to get caught up in other people’s worlds, in the best way possible.

  4. Such amazing and truthful words. I constantly think to myself and question why I care about the approval or views of others on what is happening in my life through social media. I know in many ways social media can and is used for good, but I also feel that it often steals a lot of joy and causes evil comparisons and thoughts to creep in to and fester in our minds. Additionally, I feel that social media has allowed my personal memories to become increasingly defined by the pictures that occurred in those events instead of the conversations, laughter, food, sights and sounds, and even emotions of those moments. In 2017, I hope to truly live beyond the lenses of social media apps and create lasting and vibrant visions that capture the emotions of entire moments like your friend did of you and your new hubby blowing bubbles after your wedding. So sweet and beautiful. Mental images like that, of life’s small and simplest moments, that remind me of the greatness of God and the people he has placed all around me for me to love and to love me in return. Thanks for writing this Hannah, it’s a perfect encouragement in the new year.

  5. I love this. I have been mulling this over prayerfully as I’m on a social media sabbatical. What does it look like for us to be content with a moment and NOT publicly celebrate it? How do we make sure our spouses and families aren’t looked past as we cater to people we never even see? This gives me so much more to think about and I love it!

    1. I challenge you to spend a little time every single day doing something for someone you love. Love is an action step. It will make you feel present and grateful!


  6. Oh these words were so sweet for my soul. At Christmas dinner, my family went around and said our top three of the year. Everyone’s list were the big things, the things you’d expect from a top three. They included cancer leaving a body, big trips to beautiful places, and hikes that challenged and pushed us. And the lists were great, but I think I want to make every day life for people more about ‘top threes.’ Approaching everything with that mentality- how can I make right now something important and special and magical for this person? Not letting big trips mark the best moments, but being able to look back at the year and say, I have a hard time choosing a top three because even the simple moments felt like something worth holding onto.

    1. Yes, all the yes. It was the simple moments that made 2016 for me. I totally get that but isn’t it weird that we feel this pressure to say the big things instead of the little things?


  7. Love this. Love the idea of participating in my life. I walked through a season where I felt like I was watching my life happen. I’m a missionary. I work on a college campus with women, many who’ve been assaulted. I love and hate my job and I’m currently in the process of deciding whether or not I want to be in this space for the long haul. Sometimes I feel like because it’s my job to love these women, I don’t actually love them genuinely, freely, authentically. Thank you for this post ❤

    1. Whitney!
      I just came across these sweet words and my heart began to burst from the seams! I took a look at your blog space (not sure if you’re still actively writing?) and was really touched. Looks like we have some stuff in common, which is totally neat.
      – Vivian

  8. I just love your heart. I’m on a social media fast to start 2017 and it feels SO good. It’s making me realize that showing up for people is so much more than just liking their Instagram photo. It’s encouraging me to be super intentional about the people I do keep up with and make an effort with — because it takes more effort than just checking their FB profile. Thank you for being a light!

    1. My husband and I along with another couple were close to have chosen to start this year off with a social media fast for 30 days and on day 3 I am already feeling the effects. I spent the first 2 days incessantly opening my camera (the spot where my IG app used to sit) and each time I reminded myself why I was doing this! Cheers!

    2. I also started 2017 off this way! It’s much harder than I thought it would be because I’m use to mindlessly scrolling while watching movies or just in random moments of time to fill.

  9. I want you to know first ~ I’m not sure when I started reading your blog or even how I found it, but I’m glad I did. I’ve laughed, heart touched said “yeah, me too, Hannah,” quoted you in my writings, and just simply prayed for you. You’ve been an inspiration not just to me (55yrs), but to my daughter (28yrs) when I’ve forwarded something I thought would speak to her heart as well. So, I thank you for putting your thoughts, and your heart out there. Thank you for your transparency with us.
    Ok, having said my thank you’s ~ thought I’d also let you know that “being a participate” has severely been on my heart for quite some time…people who don’t feel the need to contact in the real because they stay “up to date” cyberly. I guess the reason it’s become so heart heavy lately is because we just came out of a bout with that dreaded “c” word. Yes, we posted it on the social networks, mainly because we have friends and family scattered across kingdom come….they all “said” they were praying, and with most I didn’t doubt that, but the part that really hit home was the fact that not one single person who lives around us “participated” in the real because they were being updated via social media. I actually found myself making excuses for them, like ~ “well, they’re busy and……” I don’t know, it just made me sad. I think we’ve allowed the cyber space encouragement to take precedence over the actual hands on meaning of “So, encourage one another and build one another up…”
    So all that to say, “Amen Hannah.” And, what is the small thing I want to do to help others in 2017? I want to continue to be present….I want to continue be a present to those in relational proximity….and even to the gal with four kids hanging off the buggy in line behind me at the grocery store. 😉
    Have an above and beyond blessed year!

  10. For 2017 I want to do more acts of kindness towards my neighbours in this new community that I now call home.
    We have so much “stuff” on social media Hannah, it can be overwhelming sometimes. We need to participate in life not scroll through the lives of others. I always find time for your blog though. You have a special gift that resonates with many. Bless you. Suzie Devon England.

  11. Feeling extra excited about your blog in 2017! In 2017 I want to make family a priority. It seems they get left behind more often than my husband, his family and our friends. Birthdays, holidays and randomly surprising them with a coffee or their favorite snack are all on my agenda this year!

  12. In the last year I really pushed myself to think before posting to social media- was it something that was important to share and why was I sharing it? I quickly realized that I didn’t want to be posting the seeminly random minute details of my personal life, and it was often because I wasn’t feeling satisfied in myself. It was a tough year, but thinking before posting changed my outlook considerably!
    This year, I have vowed to love more- myself, my friends, my family, strangers on the street, my barista. Love a little bit more than yesterday ❤

  13. This year, I want to learn the art of taking care of myself. Not in the selfish kind of way, but in the way that makes it so that I can be fully present for other people. I am learning to maintain my mental health and to reach out for help sooner when things start to slip. I am learning to resist shame in needing help for mental health, and embracing it as a part of being able to be there for the people in my life that I love.

  14. I’ve been thinking so much about this lately! I’m trying to figure out how to let go of social media a little more, and to make sure I’m busy investing in people and living my own life instead of watching others post about theirs. I want to let go of the feeling that I need to share moments and just be present in them instead. Thank you for this ❤

  15. Ever since I discovered your letter-writing book awhile back, your wisdom and writing have given me hope for the future. As a retired English teacher, I felt moved by all you wrote, said, and DID! I used your Ted Talk in my high school classes and had teenagers write “love letters” to relatives, friends, and elementary pen pals. I have been a non-stop letter writer all my life. In 2014 I wrote a letter a day to someone dear to me. In 2015-16 I focused on letters and notes of gratitude. Now I’ve been blogging and continuing the letters of thanks. You have inspired me to keep writing letters AND to write in other ways (the blog, some short stories, and even a novel last fall). Your warm, loving “old soul” sensibilities make me believe in a groovy future for this crazy, crazy world. Merci beaucoup for ALL YOU DO!

  16. Oh Hannah! It was as if you knew what I needed to hear!! My husband and I have taken on a few challenges to start 2017 off on the best foot possible and one of them has actually been a 30 day social media cleanse that we’re currently on day 3 of and today is the first day where I haven’t caught myself subconsciously clicking where my Instagram app used to be. My brain has wired itself to need to post about stuff that happens in order to validate my worth. I love the part about keeping some things intimate. I think Instagram is a wonderful tool for connecting like minded people but I do believe I overshare things and have found my worth in the “big bubbles” instead of how much impact my “tiny bubbles” in my day to day “real” life can impact others. Thank you for what you do Hannah!

    1. “My brain has wired itself to need to post about stuff that happens in order to validate my worth”.

      That convicted me deeply – I never could pinpoint why social media was so addictive for me, but for whatever reason your words really cut through the lame excuses I’d been coming up with. Thank you.

  17. So far in 2017, God is already teaching me how to be a good friend & show up for others, even when I’m tired, don’t want to talk, “too busy,” etc. I am trying to be better at being consistent. That was a theme of 2016 for me, and I know that will continue to be a theme of the rest of my life. Not allowing the “busyness” to isolate me from what is truly important- laughing and living with others. Also, prayer!!! Fighting for myself, and those that matter, without seeing immediate results is important. We have no idea the impact that our prayers have, even when we can’t see tangible results.

  18. Love this!!!! Thank you! I want to do more for others like take new mothers a meal, encourage them, and I want to invite more friends to come to church and meet Jesus!

  19. I literally just wrote about the importance of putting the phone down. This post. This post nails it. The intentional and meaningful ways we connect with people in real life will mean more that mindless scrolling and double-tapping. You are doing good things, Hannah. Thank you for always saying what needs to be said. ❤

  20. Hey HB. Hey friends. I hope 2017 looks a whole lot like getting over my shame so that I can be present and imperfect and free with myself and with my people. My counselor says the gift of shame is humility. Can you imagine just choosing to let the rough edges on you simply be a reminder of your humanness, and then moving on instead of letting shame tell you you’ll never be good enough. And I hope by embracing my humanness people can come close to me. Isn’t that what we all want? Someone to feel human with?

  21. I connected with this in some many ways! That part about the small bubbles is so encouraging. Influence isn’t about the big moments, it’s about small acts. I needed that reminder this week. I’ve done a lot of reflection these past few months and realized I was spending more time watching what my friends were doing on social media rather than picking up the phone and calling them or getting coffee with them asking what’s new in person rather than relying on knowing about their lives based on what they post online. I’ve already deleted my social media apps and only get on Facebook when I’m at a computer that’s not my work computer. It’s helped me connect with them so much more in just a weeks time. I appreciate how you’re always finding ways to challenge yourself and live an authentic life. Keep up the love and intentional words you bring to this space.

  22. Wow, so good! Thank you so much for sharing this.

    In 2017 I want to be fully present with whoever is in front of me and not be focused on the next task. I am moving back overseas in a couple months and have a lot to do and sell before I leave but I don’t want to miss out on anything. I want to be able to drown out the list (and get the tasks done when needed) but really listen and be present with the person I am with.

  23. Ah Hannah, you inspirational fairy….I have not shared my most important parts of my life on social media. This year I am trying to teach my young niece who has come to live with me that she needs “real life” friends. That you cannot believe everything you read and never be too personal on social media.
    I am hoping she will learn to love writing letters. To express herself to herself and know that being in person counts more than a blurb on a web page you copied over. I am hoping to show a good example to a lot of younger kids real life really counts!
    God Bless you for being there for so many and continue to take care of yourself.

  24. This year, I want to focus on experiencing. I feel like last year, I was constantly waiting for life to happen. I want to try to explore, create, and not have to wait for happiness to come to my doorstep.

    Ps: I am a big fan of your blogs 😊

  25. Ohmyword. Those small bubbles speak big time truths.
    Maybe the next sentence I’m about to type is common sense for most people — but this just recently came to light for me: to continue finding ways to help others, love others, be a source of strength for others; I have to continue to also find ways to help myself, love myself, find my own inner source(s) of strength — so the core of my participation in life and the life of others can consistently come from a foundation of being genuine.
    My (personal) small acts: similar to what others have mentioned — a serious and necessary detox from the hectic social media world, a 31 day yoga challenge, & find ways to not care too much what I may think people want to hear. Just be me and give my truths a voice.
    Small acts I aim to do for others: a commitment to having less surface-level/passerby-style conversations and more conversations that really mean something. Sitting down. Over tea. And tacos. And some Paul Simon tunes 🙂

  26. Hannah, thank you for sharing. I hold your writings close because you communicate so beautifully and honestly and I feel like you always encourage your readers to truly live and love well. Something I am learning lately about the internet is that it can be beautiful; if we can push past the distractions that social media generally brings, we can use the internet to connect in meaningful ways, with real people who have real stories and struggles. So that’s a small thing I’m hoping for this year, to intentionally use my online presence to reach out to some people that I will likely never meet, just to encourage them and to help them know that they are seen.

  27. Hi!
    I can relate to your feelings about social media. I was tired of liking just selfies on fb. No one was doing anything spectacular and amazing with their lives so I created my own space and I am in awe of how much everyone tries to accomplish here,trying to make every moment of life count.
    We have been obsessed with capturing every moment of life and sharing it. On my birthday in 2016, during the family celebration I was so happy living in the present and cutting the cake and stuff that I forgot to take any picture and that was the best thing that happened. Without that obsession of how to share, life is much better appreciated.

  28. In 2017 I want to learn how to cook, so I can gather people I love together and feed them as we invest in each other’s lives.

  29. I too want to participate in people’s life. I joined a diverse small group at my church but I’m still so aware of my race and background and it stops me from having meaningful relationships with them. I want to attend things I’m invited to outside of small group. I haven’t attended one thing my small group invites me to except for bible studies.

    I’m not sure how to get out of my own head because I’m certain they don’t care about my race or background.

    1. It really makes me sad to read that; “I’m still so aware of my race and background and it stops me from having meaningful relationships with them.”

      I just want to remind you of that the kingdom of God is for ALL people! He loves you so much and He wants you to have meaningful relationships, and most of all He wants to be with you! ❤

  30. I have always been a fan of you since AC days in the ASC. Being in my fourth year of graduate school sometimes it’s hard to remember to have a work/life balance. I feel like whenever I read your blog I remember to find the balance. I deleted Facebook off of my phone on New Year’s because I found that I was happier not checking it constantly to see what was happening with all of my “friends,” and instead choosing to focus on who and what is in the present. So I guess you could say my 2017 is about letting go of what I don’t need and focusing on what is happening now. Sometimes we don’t realize how much of life’s gifts to us are in front of our face and not a screen.

  31. I thought about blogging about my goals this week. I’m really excited for 2017 because I’m doing Lara Casey’s PowerSheets, but I was too afraid to share most of my goals with the world. One of my big ones is about making more meaningful friendships. I spent most of 2016 feeling like I’ve held on too long to friendships that don’t exist anymore and I’m afraid to ask who wants to be my friend, who wants to have real meaningful conversations. I have these people on the sidelines of my life who look like the kind of friends I want but it’s not easy like it used to be as a kid. So that’s my hop for 2017. That I do something about that feeling.

    1. Kaleigh….your words resonate. I too want those meaningful conversations and have people on the sidelines…I’ve challenged myself to step out of my comfort zone and invite those sideliners in…..I fear it will likely result in many dead ends before success.

  32. What a lovely goal to be a participant. This year I hope to help others by being present. In doing so I hope to learn humility, make people feel noticed and heard, and realize that through my gift of presence God is ever-present.

  33. I love the idea of being a participant in my own life. I’ll be the first to admit, too often I think to myself, “How can I get a good Instagram picture out of this?” When in reality, that’s not why I’m doing it to begin with. I need to be present with myself. Give myself permission to reach out to the boy I met this summer. Give myself permission to travel to the new places I want to see. Instead of saying one day, I need to do them now.

  34. I love this!! I definitely hear truth in separating social media from our personal lives and interacting and loving on others in person, but I also find that message especially poignant as a law student surrounded by other students in an environment where it becomes too easy to only talk about law school or studying and too easy to forget to love on each other as people. One “small thing” I want to be doing this year is getting to know my peers as people, not just as fellow law students, and going beyond the superficial relationships formed by being in classes together. I also want to be separating myself from social media AND law school when i’m spending time with husband, because he deserves my full attention as his wife and best friend, not just someone who only talks about law school or spends valuable time together with her nose buried in her phone.

  35. This resonates so very much. I love the vision of many little “bubbles” serving as a delightful canopy over the people in our lives. One of the things I didn’t notice about myself until this past year was how frequently I go to bed a little disappointed in myself that I didn’t accomplish “more (the big bubbles). What I’m realizing is that the answer isn’t bigger, flashier bubbles, but lots of tiny, lovely little ones oriented around what matters most to me: people. Always people. And always love with the people I get to interact with—whether it’s a stranger I bump into by accident, or the very closest friends and family in my life.

    Thanks for the illuminating post! Maybe I’ll leave a little container of bubbles on my desk now as a reminder…:-)

  36. Thank you for your never-ending encouragement :). In 2016 I married a wonderful man, moved into a new apartment together, and started a new job. In 2017, my goal is to make more time for my girlfriends. Often at the end of the day, I just want to come home and spend time with my husband (which is great!), but I want to be better at saying “yes” to coffee/drinks/just spending time with friends.

  37. So beautiful! And so true! I just got back to blogging this past fall, and as I have been trying to make connections on social media–I have missed the in person contact I had as a youth pastor and that I still have as a mentor. I keep being reminded that no matter how many people read my writing–the greatest influence I have is with the people I get to love face to face. Thank you for the reminder to be full participants in life!

  38. Hannah every one of your post speaks to my heart. I’m a crafter so my little bubbles include putting packages of homemade cards together & giving them to non-profit groups for fundraising, hosting low cost carding workshops and creating scrapbook pages to help family & friends celebrate a new baby, wedding or for a memorial service.

  39. Hey, Hannah!

    I have not formally reached out on social yet, but I am from Atlanta and have several times come across your social pieces and talks – all of which keep me coming back and feed my soul. I love everything about what I have found to be true of you, as much as I can digitally, and your writing and transparency have both pushed me, grown me and helped me to press into Jesus more.

    One of the things I am noticing this year is the importance in details. Jesus works in the small – and following Jesus isn’t a yearly thing, but it is a moments thing. Obedience is a step by step, minute by minute thing, and following Jesus is the same. If we follow Jesus with every single decision, and every minute of every hour, surely we will with our entire lives. Jesus is at work in the small, much of what we so easily discredit and overlook. I am making a goal to pay attention to what I have spent so much time overlooking – the small. I love your dialogue on social boundaries. I have been in the social media industry for a living for the past five years and at times it has seemed like a beast that I’ll never have a chance of escaping. At times where it seemed optional to participate in, social media has grown and invited itself into every area of our lives, our businesses, friendships and relationships. Sharing and creating boundaries has seemed like a harder task to achieve and I love how you are bringing this to our attention and providing space for us to digest it all.

    Here is a quote that I found relative to this post. I hope you enjoy it. Thank you for sharing. You are loved and appreciated.

    In his teaching and preaching, Jesus was forever calling our attention to the seemingly trivial, the small, and the insignificant—like lost children, lost coins, lost sheep, a mustard seed. The Kingdom involves the ability to see God within those people and experiences [that] the world regards as little and of no account, ordinary.
    Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon, Resident Aliens
    (via contrariansoul)

  40. I absolutely needed this reminder today. I tend to think about community a lot this time of year and usually find that my connection to some of the people in my life is not as strong as I would like it to be. Especially my with my sisters. And I think it’s because I am a really great listener but I struggle when it comes to speaking up sometimes. This year I want to focus on being more of a presence in the lives of the people I love and not just someone who is always there in the background.


    Sue Slates

  42. As many of the other individuals have shared, this post is a really good reminder and pushes me to move into action with a lot of my goals. Although I know I am not the only one, I am so good at coming up with ideas and saying I am going to do this & that, but then pushing taking action off again…and again…and again. One thing I want to do this year is love the people in my corner WELL (HB – that phrase – loving the people in my corner well – is from a previous blog post or insta post from you and has been super helpful to me!) by writing birthday cards, putting important dates in my phone (like when they start a new job or move), reaching out for help when I am not well and texting them when something makes me think of them. I am praying for deeper rooted friendships and community this year.

  43. Hi Hannah! I’m coming at you from Greenville, SC and I’m always reading what you say. Your words mean so, so much to me and speak life to me while I’m still in the woods. The biggest thing I want from this year are safe spaces. I want to find them and I want to build them. I want to finally find my tribe. And I want to love life and make peace with God. It’s a tall order.

    But happy 2017 to you! I’ll be here and commenting. 🙂

  44. As many other individuals have shared, this post is a really good reminder to DO the things that I have been saying I am going to DO and to be present in life. Although I know that I am not the only one, I am so good at saying that I am going to start doing something or have a new goal but then I push taking action off again and again and again. I am not sure if that is due to fear or laziness or what – I am trying to figure out the root. BUT, here is me pursuing some accountability – one of my goals of 2017 is to love the people in my corner WELL (HB – that phrase “to love the people in my corner well” is a phrase from a previous blog post or insta post of yours! The phrase has been super helpful for me!). I am going to do this by putting people’s birthdays in my planner and sending them birthday cards, by putting important dates in my phone and texting them when they happen (like moving or starting a new job), by reaching out for help when I need help and by texting/calling them when something reminds me of them. I am praying for deeper rooted friendships and community in 2017.

    P.S. I feel a little bit like Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail right now. “I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void.”

  45. Firstly I would like to say how much I liked reading this post. Congratulations on your nuptials. I want to get to know more people than my inner circle.

  46. I loved this post, Hannah. There are times where I’ve missed important events in my friends’ lives because I let arbitrary things get in the way. Starting a few weeks ago, I decided that I don’t want to miss a single milestone, so I will be attending every event that I can.

  47. I’m writing all the way from little old New Zealand! One of my goals this year is to ask more questions. If I ask a friend how she is and she replies with ‘good’ go a little bit deeper. One friend did that to me about 8 years ago and it had such a significant impact on my life. P.S I got married two weeks before you – isn’t it the best? X

  48. I love investing in people (offering encouragement, bible study, life issues discussion)…but the problem: God leads me to a person, we develop a relationship, then that person backs-out. Often that is a signal that I’ve served my God-given purpose in that person’s life for the time. The relationship fades and life moves forward. However, a recent exchange has left me thinking and praying for that individual non-stop. I reach, but that person is non-responsive. I feel God leading me to continue to reach out….but …it’s exhausting to continue to put myself out there with no return. It has me questioning my ability to know God’s leading….maybe I should stop? I know I’m thinking of self…don’t desire additional shunning…but also want to do what God has for me to serve Him. Dilemma! I appreciate additional thoughts on this topic!

  49. I don’t have something I want to do this year, but I’m feeling the “being an active participant.” This past weekend I got to go home to visit Christmas and New Years with my family. I usually take pictures when I’m with them because I love to scrapbook and I love to post after my weekend is over about how great of a weekend I had with them.
    While my niece was opening present for me she FREAKED OUT. I can’t even explain, but I’ve never seen a kid get so excited about a present before in my life.
    I was falling down on the job as far as taking pictures was concerned so I actually got to see and experience that moment, something I’m so thankful for.
    However, outside of my scrapbooks I rarely go back and just look at the hundreds of pictures on my phone after something happens. I’d much rather experience the memories I have in my brain. They’re more vivid.
    So I don’t know if this has a point other than I’m totally feeling the whole being a participant thing.

  50. I love this and so agree that people need to be more present within their own lives rather than to have their face in a screen scrolling to oblivion.
    However, it is from the online world that I have discovered my resolution of making my own happiness. It is from the world of social media that I have now delved into a gratitude diary, yoga, guided mediation and finding an array of captivating books to get lost in; all of these things I would not have discovered if not for the Internet.
    It is just knowing when to put life on pause and make the most of precious time for yourself and with your loved ones.

  51. I’m coming from a place of excitement and hope for 2017. I want to get my hands dirty and learn new skills. At this point, I’ve started to figure out what I want to do with my life. I have all the tools, I just need to get out there and give it a shot. I’ve been afraid of putting myself out there for fear of failing, but I won’t ever get that dream job or start my own business if I don’t take a step forward to start this year!

  52. This post just really hit me and brought tears to my eyes. Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed or unsure, your words always seem to hit my inbox at exactly the right time, HB. I have never commented before, and for that I am sorry, but I want you to know that your writing is a soul gift. Thank you for being you.

  53. 2017 is the year I finally graduate with my bachelors degree. I’m in the very beginning seconds of my last semester as an undergrad and can already tell God is calling me to stay in these hard and awkward and scary moments, even when I would much rather run away. Maybe that’s what 2017 will end up being, one big large lesson in how to stay in the hard moments to get the holy and to get the victory on the other side.

  54. 2017 is the year I finally graduate with my bachelors degree. I’m in the very beginning seconds of my last semester as an undergrad and can already tell God is calling me to stay in these hard and awkward and scary moments, even when I would much rather run away. Maybe that’s what 2017 will end up being, one big large lesson in how to stay in the hard moments to get the holy and to get the victory on the other side.

  55. Thank you, Hannah, for this post. Just, thank you. Actually, I made a decision to give up social media for 2017. Last August, I moved from St. Petersburg, Russia, where my parents were working, to Springfield, Missouri, and the transition hasn’t been easy. Coming back from winter break made me realize that I am truly living here in America. And the last few days have been a battle for me. It’s so hard to stay when you’re new, even if it has been a whole semester already. Today, though, because of my decision to give up social media, instead of hiding in my phone at the lunch table, I noticed a new girl and was able to have conversation with her. I have 1.5 years left in high school and I’ve been longing for the time to be over, but your post, combined with my decision to give up social media, it reminded me to be present, to hold on to the years that I have. So, thank you, HB. Praying that 2017 is unimaginable for you.

  56. Thank you, Hannah, for this post. Just, thank you. Actually, I made a decision to give up social media for 2017. Last August, I moved from St. Petersburg, Russia, where my parents were working, to Springfield, Missouri, and the transition hasn’t been easy. Coming back from winter break made me realize that I am truly living here in America. And the last few days have been a battle for me. It’s so hard to stay when you’re new, even if it has been a whole semester already. Today, though, because of my decision to give up social media, instead of hiding in my phone at the lunch table, I noticed a new girl and was able to have conversation with her. I have 1.5 years left in high school and I’ve been longing for the time to be over, but your post, combined with my decision to give up social media, it reminded me to be present, to hold on to the years that I have. So, thank you, HB. Praying that 2017 is unimaginable for you.

    1. I admire your tenacity and maturity in giving up social media for a year. You GO!!! You will not regret the face to face contact that WILL result! I’m praying for your continued successful transition to life in USA.

    2. That is so great! I admire your decision, cheering you on that you stick with it and keep reaching out to people. Yours is a good reminder of how much more we can notice around us when we aren’t glued to our phones.

  57. A coworker of mine recently deleted all social media. At lunch today she made the comment that it is difficult for her to start conversation with people she knows because she was is on Facebook anymore. She said that she used their posts about what was going on in their life to strike up a conversation. I am shocked at how social media has completely altered how we interact with people and even when we get rid of it, it still hinders us from interacting with people.

  58. I’m from way up in Idaho. I’m a senior in high school, getting ready to go to college. I am looking to make light this year for myself. I am taking steps to be more spiritual and consciously joyful. This year, I will do what I can to brighten my own mind and the people I am blessed to be around. ❤

  59. I’ve been receiving your email updates for a little under a year, and the weekly emails are nothing short of edifying. What a chaotic season this has been for a profound amount of us; and what a gift it is to speak out what we’ve walked through. Your words and posts and prayers give me so much hope. They remind me that painful seasons are never meant to be walked alone. That God is someone to be worshipped and praised. That we are meant to hold each other in our prayers and hang up so that we can actually look at others around us. Thank you for spreading goodness! Also, congrats on getting married!

  60. Love this! I often find myself experiencing these wonderful moments and all my mind is thinking is “how can I turn this into a cool IG pic?” While I love to be creative in that way, I find myself not REALLY taking in whatever it is I’m doing. Those private moments are so special to me too. When my best friend leaves me notes on my car I take a picture but then think to myself, “this is so meaningful to me, I think I’d rather keep this private”. So much of my life is online and I like it but then one of my goals I was writing out last night was “unplug Julia. Just unplug”. Thanks HB! Happy New Year!

  61. I’m from California and about to graduate medical school in May – to become a real life doctor. It’s so close yet so far and definitely completely surreal. I love this perspective and it is just so right on the money. Thank you for sharing and guiding me to this intention.

  62. Hey, Hannah (and everyone!) I’m a writer from an mid-size Ohio town that’s consistently in the national spotlight for bad things. Dark and desperate things. Things that rip families and friendships straight through.

    But I love my town. And I love the people in it even more. So this year, my husband and I are making a point to nurture those people in this Appalachian town with our humble home and his mad cooking skills that make me swoon. Shauna Niequist writes (in several of her books) about her love for the table and hosting and nurturing people with food…and it’s inspiring. Like your blog. It’s writers like you that make me want to be present and hospitable. It’s writers like you who encourage couples like my husband and I who are only in our 20s—living in an 800 sq. ft. home with a fat, fluffy cat we likely adore too much—to open our home once a week in 2017 to someone we love, want to get to know or simply feel lead to invite over for a home-cooked meal and a board game or two. It’s writers like you who make us want to show up, participate and connect—off the screen, face to face, around the table.

    Here’s to a year of participating. ❤

    1. April, this is beautiful! You’ll surely make a difference in the lives of others by inviting them into your home! There is a couple at my church who started inviting me over at their apartment, and now at their house, and over the last couple years they’ve become dear friends. Their care and concern for me felt so genuine as they extended a meal and a warm home, board games and encouraging conversation. Good stuff! Excited for you and your husband and the relationships you’ll get to nurture this year!

  63. 2016 was a really challenging yet beautiful year for me. i did things i never thought i would do, like graduate high school and start college. in 2017 i want to continue to learn how to love people boldly and unconditionally. i want to write letters more often. i want to go for walks with people. i want to put my phone away. i want to journal and hike and start saying yes to things because im tired of wondering “what if…” i also want to get into my nursing program and work at summer camp again. i want to serve kids at camp and show them god’s love for them. i want to continue to pursure god and explore a deeper relationship even though i have no idea where to start. i guess i just want 2017 to be the year i stop living behind a screen and actually enjoy the city and people around me

  64. Hi Hannah, I cannot tell you how much I agree with this blog post. These have been exactly my thoughts as well and I hate how much social media impacts the way I think about my life experiences. I have always preferred to have secrets, keep special moments quietly with my favorite people, and allow some beautiful moments and images to pass without telling a soul. To me, this makes life beautiful and meaningful. However whenever I’m on social media I realize that I begin living LOOKING for things to portray as pretty online, where it doesn’t matter at all. My goal for life is to have the means to live comfortably and to have a second home or extension on my home to designate to other Christians. I want my home to be a platform for ministry to others. Right now I don’t have excessive money, but I pray all the time that God would show me what I have to give —time, skill, a listening ear—and show me who to give it to. My husband and I are also in our 20s, and this year our resolution is to reach beyond ourselves into others’ lives. This is my passion, and what God wants me to do. I so loved reading your post.

  65. Hi:) I’m a highschooler. An insanely creative kid who’s got lots to share with the world. This post? Boy, did it help me tonight. In 2017, my biggest thing is “compassion”. Lots and lots of compassion. And I guess compassion doesn’t mean I have to get along with everyone, or agree with everyone, or engage with everyone. But it does mean that I have to have God in my heart. Be open and kind, for I have no idea what struggles others are going through. And I learn that lesson over and over every day. Anyways, thank you again. Your blog inspires me, as I would very much like to write when I’m older.

  66. I called my best friend from college today. We live far away from each other and don’t speak often. We caught up after months on our lives, adulting, and Jesus. I told her she was important to me and that I loved her. I don’t want our friendship to be solely liking each other’s Instagram posts. 2017 is the year I invest in my loved ones. One call at a time.

  67. Hi from another Hannah…I’ve never commented but I’ve been following your blog for a while now. 🙂 I have struggled a lot with depression and anxiety and your writing helps ground me and encourage me. My goal this year is to look for ways to actively serve others…whether that means writing an encouraging note, doing the dishes or making dinner for my mom who is chronically ill (I’m 18 so still at home), making a meal for a family in need in our church, or being overly optimistic to counter stress in someone else…that’s my goal for 2017.

  68. This year, I guess my plan is to keep showing up for the kids in the small youth group I help lead. I sometimes feel like I really don’t have much to offer them, since I’m in college and have no idea what I want to do with my life, so how am I supposed to help them through this super crucial time in theirs?
    But then they ask me to come to their basketball game or track meet, and I’m so so happy. I don’t think I was comfortable enough to ask anyone to show up for me in my teen years, so the fact that they feel like they can ask that of me gives me all the warm fuzzies.
    So I’m just planning to keep remembering that you can always make someone feel good by just showing up. And your blog is always such a helpful reminder of that!
    PS – Our local libraries have several Flannery O’Connor-centered events coming up. Come to Knoxville!

  69. I have screwed up so much last year. Friends, love, college and my health. It has been a terrible, horrible mess. I need to clean up all these messes I have made. I need to explode myself into every single day I have and make each moment worth every breath. And to know that it’s okay to fall down. Just fall into that rabbit hole but not wake up in a wonderland but in a holy mess.

    I need to be kind on myself.That’s what I am going to do this year. I am going to fall in love with myself. And I am going to fix everything that I broke. I am not going to drown my failures in a bottle of pills.

    1. I love the imagery when you said “I need to explode myself into every single day”! It sounds like a challenge, as if you are daring yourself to cover every inch of life available. I too want to explode into every day. Thanks for putting it into words!

  70. Hannah, you’re doing it again! Touching us, shaking us, opening our eyes to all the smaller bubbles we take for granted. Thank you. In 2017, I want pick up the phone and call the people in my life. I want to visit and maybe sleepover. Cook together, share life together in little ways. Ultimately, I want to be present, an active participant in this sweet and lovely journey called life.

  71. I agree with you. We have become consumed with sharing our lives with the computer or phone but not with people. We would rather post about having a good time then to actually enjoy ourselves.

  72. i also want to connect with REAL people more. when i say ”lets get lunch sometime” to someone on social media—i actually am going to set it up & go to lunch with them. I’m going to leave some details out of my ‘social media life’. keep more things just between me & that one person or that group of people that it actually happened with. realize that it doesn’t have to be on Facebook to mean it happened…

  73. Thank you for this, Hannah! What a timely reminder for the new year. I think I make an effort to be fully present in my ‘real’ life, but my online presence is negligible. I scroll through dozens of blog posts and articles each day, but comment rarely, if ever. A few years ago I had a rule that for every day I read blogs, I had to leave at least two comments to encourage those writing. I think that’s a habit I want to return to this year and I hope it’ll help shift my spectator-sport mindset when it comes to reading other people’s writing. When people pour out their God-given words they deserve a response. Thank you again for sharing your words with us!

  74. Hello there!I am very glad that I read your post.You beautifully brought up things which are sometimes suppressed or simply hidden in our daily hustle and bustle of lives but are of indeed great importance.Thank you for the post.
    I look forward to hearing from you.I am Shruti from India and currently in my third year in college.

  75. small things i commit to doing in 2017: look people in the eyes and SEE them, give specific and substantive compliments, tell what i admire and respect about a person’s character and behavior and way of being in the world, hold more hands, give more hugs, love through daily ACTION.

  76. Hi! I’m from Singapore! This year, I want to explore more places, know more people and stretch a bit of my introvert bubble. I want to learn to serve others with humility and a gentle heart, redo a degree so I can eventually be a clinical psychologist to reach out to and help people. Most importantly, I want to grow closer to God and bring more people to Him through my actions!

  77. I’m doing it I’m commenting! I just ended an aspect of a relationship I shouldn’t bring into 2017. I’m heading into a year of abstinence come February. I’ve been writing to people whenever it’s on my heart. And I’m just trying to trust that God will fulfill his promises to me month after month this year. Ultimately I want people to show his love to those who are HIV+ and have not yet uncovered such a sweet life with their Savior. Happy New Year Hannah. You were huge in my 2016.

  78. This resonated with me today. My one word for 2017 is “present.” To not live in the past or the future, but to live right now in the moment and be all there. And to be an active life participant rather than a passive participant. I’ve been wrestling a little with social media though because I have steered away from using it to the extent that most of those in the late teen’s and early twenties do, but I also feel the pull to use it more…in a good way. I work as the Co-Director of Children’s Ministries and the Women’s and College & Young Adult Ministries Coordinator at a non-denominational church in NC. And I almost feel like I need to be more present there too in order to reach people. I don’t know. Does that make any sense?

    1. I know you were talking to Hannah but that totally makes sense to me! There is so much good that can come from social media! Take Hannah’s blog for example, it reaches so many people like you and me and leaves us all uplifted! I think the trick is balance. We have to love them in person more than we heart their pictures on Instagram. I think if you keep your mantra of living in the present with you, than you can succeed in helping the people in your ministry both online and in person. 🙂

  79. “the quest to be anything but a spectator of other people’s lives” — THIS. Yes, this! Today I deactivated Facebook and deleted snapchat. I kept Instagram, but I made a vow to myself to limit my use and exposure. I am caught up so easily in the capturing of moments it can be easy to forget to truly experience them and lose the intention behind them.

    I love this reminder for the new year. I hope to instead do little things by reaching out for phone dates and coffee facetimes and walks in the park with the people in the photos I follow, instead of just watching their highlight reel from afar.

  80. “We owe moments of excitement and surprise to our dearest and oldest friends as much as we do to our partners and lovers,” I love this thought. I recently went to a friends wedding where I was able to catch up with a lot of old friends. At the wedding I realized that I still consider these people some of my best friends, but that I haven’t done anything more than comment heart eyes on their Instagram pictures to stay in touch with them for the last couple of years. That is sooo sad! So that night I messaged one of them to meet up for breakfast. Now I want to make it my goal to give all of them a real phone call or an in person meet up this next year. Baby steps back to real relationships!

  81. I couldn’t agree more! In fact, I was just having this conversation with a friend yesterday. Social media allows us all to craft a perfect life. Very rarely do we post about our real challenges, only the positives. Very rarely do we reach out to those whom we are connected with; we simply read about their lives and like, or love, or react in someway from a screen. I believe we create a lot of self doubt through pur constant social interactions because we are constantly comparing, and comparing against only the positives, not the true reality of another’s life. In 2017, I hope to reconnect with myself and constantly bring my heart back to what’s truly important in this world. I started by deleting the social media apps from my phone. So that I would make intentional moments of connection through social opposed to passing time at a stop light or in a doctor’s office. I hope to remind myself and those around me of the need for intentional connection when we’re months into 2017. -cheers

  82. Always so very encouraged by the work God is doing through you. Thankful for your light and inspiration. In 2017, I’ve committed myself to diving deep into my passion of gathering people around food. I used to think of that desire as frivolous and unnecessary, but I keep being reminded that it’s so deep rooted in me that it must be important. Reading cookbooks like novels, planning community dinner nights, baking as a means of encouragement, working at a local restaurant. It’s the year of doing what I love, instead of doing what the world says. PS: tried a chicken meatball recipe. So good!

  83. I don’t make resolutions because no one keeps them. I guess that as a child, I never understood why people undergo the ritual of making new year’s resolutions while also maintaining a public discourse that acknowledges that very few resolutions survive into February. So I never started. Instead, I walk forward in whatever area I can, over and over, just a small step each day. Right now, I’m walking towards understanding a lifelong hardship that is a part of me- arguably crafted into me by my Father- and what it means for my life. So I examine myself and the world, people in similar situations and accommodations that can make things easier, and I just keep taking one more step.

  84. Hey there everyone! I’m Brittni, and I’ve been reading HB’s blog for quite a while now, but have never reached out through comments. 2016 was quite the year for me – I got engaged, took both a national and international trip, and got married (and those things all happened within a 3 month time span)! It was a whirlwind year after a really rough year and a half before, so I’m really looking forward to 2017 and all that it holds. My husband and I feel called to move to Brasil as missionaries (indefinitely) in the fall of this coming year, so we’re taking a big leap of faith in knowing that He’ll provide what we need, both physically and spiritually. In saying that, we know that we have a lot of preparation to do and we’ll also be saying a lot of goodbyes. That has been a really tough reality, but honestly, I’m really enjoying this season because we’ve chosen to use the time we have here to really lean in and get the most out of the time we have left with family and friends and our jobs and church. I want to use this time to bless people and not pull back because we’re leaving. Getting closer to people will be hard, but I think it will be so worth it. Thank you, Hannah, for your heart and for sharing your thoughts with all of us here!

  85. Yes, yes and yes! Building community and open, thoughtful dialogue. The collective small things that bring us together and less social media / more presence. I write about mindfulness and am playing with ways to share my blog. I have been experimenting with social media. And, hating it. I’m not knocking those who do use it, sometimes I find just the inspiration I am needing there. A deep breath on a tough day. A reminder. Hope. A smile. This year I am exploring (mindfully) engaging and connecting and sharing my writing in ways that feel great. Authentic and true to me. Cheers! Thanks for the great article.

  86. Your blog encourages me to put down my phone. I’ve really been struggling to connect with my 9-year old daughter lately and she told me weeks ago that I always have my face buried in my phone. And while I might not always be on ‘social media’ I do realize that every time I pick up that phone I take time away from being influential to my young impressionable daughter. That reality hit me like a ton of bricks and reading your blog reiterate’s the fact that we, as a society, lack the ability to make honest connections outside of electronics. So, thank you Hannah, for the challenge on reconnecting with those that are most important to me (and living right under my roof!!!).

  87. I just walked out of a deep,dark, weary season. And I love this post, and I love your heart. I whittled my inner circle down to three close friends who have literally held my arms up and my heart in their hands for the last nine months. I want to spend 2017 pouring into them out of gratitude and commitment that we’re all in this together. I also am ready to step into trust with the Lord that he has led me down a long road to a career dream, and if it comes to fruition in the coming weeks I will accept it with humbleness that there is so much to do and learn, but with confidence that He is mighty in me and through me, and that this really is a God dream. Thanks for encouraging me to share it, instead of keeping it to myself.😉 xo, Sara
    P.S. I deleted Facebook 2 years ago…but at your encouragement deleted Instagram in October. The capacity of my heart has increased ten-fold. I think sometimes we have to let go of social media in order to create space in our real lives for our real selves. Thanks.

  88. Hi Hannah 🙂
    I come from Germany and I want to join a new church this year and get to know new people – I want to create beautiful things for people to be inspired. In fact, I don’t have that many ideas 😦 I would love to be inspired by you and the other readers.
    Greetings, Anne

  89. Hi Hannah! LOVE your post. I’m always encouraged by reading your writing. I think it’s so important to focus on people, and I’m not always very good at it as a task-oriented, introverted person. This year, I’m hoping to replace small talk that I often hate with asking people about something specific in their lives and taking the time to listen. I love when others do this to me. I feel so cared for. I want to make others feel that way too.

  90. Holy cow Hannah this is beautiful. “All of the above will make you laugh and go crazy and want to pull your hair out and ultimately trust that this whole thing cannot possibly be an accident. Accidents have never been as beautiful as this.” This is exactly how i feel about life, this whole post is. Thank you for your heart and for sharing it always.

  91. Hannah,
    I’m from Virginia! Your words have inspired me. I read your book, your blog, and heard you speak at STORY. I love how the internet makes this big world seem a little closer. I’m eighteen and have dreams to make writing my future. In 2017, I’m going to keep writing and blogging and I’m going to be more vulnerable. I’m going to let myself feel. I’m going to stop worrying as much about making words pretty, but I’m going to focus on making them real.
    One of my favorite quotes is by C.S. Lewis,
    “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.”
    I’m going to give God the reigns and write the words He gives me to write, even when it hurts. In this seemingly picture-perfect world, I pray that being honest will help others to feel a little bit less alone.
    The way you share so openly about life and God and love encourages me. Thank you for the inspiration!

  92. i am a teenager. and this post is beautiful. sometimes the only time we even see the ones around us is when we snap a pic of them and send it through snap chat. or when we pose for an ‘insta worthy’ pic to make others know how amazing our life is when actuality its all fake. just to put all distractions aside for a second and look up at all the beautiful people god has put in our lives is motivation enough to go live. actually live. and not have to prove to others through social media that we are living the best life. because we were meant to love others. not to impress them.

  93. HB,
    I teach an 8th grade Bible class at a small Christian school in middle-of-nowhere, Ohio. In 2017 I want to influence them in small ways. While I want them to be able to remember the Bible facts I’ve taught them and their memory verses, I want them to feel like they can be themselves and talk about the big things going on in their lives. Middle school was hard for everyone so I’m hoping that the 40 minutes I have with them helps just a little bit.

    HEAPS of LOVE!!

  94. Hannah, oh yes, here’s to the small bubbles that rise up and above and touch so many. 2017 brings me to a similar space of craving community created in person in smaller ways: I hope to host small dinner gatherings 4 to 8 people to sit and speak and listen to each other. I will also continue with my story work, my book, A Bridge of Story: Risking it All to Connect Classrooms and Cultures in Belize was just released through a small publisher Parkhurst Brothers. it is my intent to create a tour of both presenting the book and sharing teacher training based on the lesson plan “how to use indigenous stories in the classroom to teach creative writing.” I am excited about the possibility of hopefully inspiring others! thank YOU for inspiring me and for being so real, raw and filled with heart. Big Hugs to you. would love to hug your in person again and somehow co-lead a workshop called We Become The Stories We Tell. ❤

  95. Hey, Hannah!
    I’m Leanne, from Wales. In 2017, I want to try and do more for charity, and also focus on being more honest and patient with the people around me.
    Thanks for writing this post, I’ve been thinking about how much I share online and how social media affects my experiences a lot lately. Keeping those special moments for myself is something I’m trying to learn to do this year.

  96. Hannah, I am oh so thankful for your desire to encourage and all the talents you possess to do so! I’ve been reading your blog for such a long time and I can’t ever remember commenting, mostly because I’m almost a little too afraid of a social media community. But, here I am! I’m excited to say that I want to spend 2017 making sure others know a few individual gifts or talents that they may possess. Whether that’s writing them notes to let them know or picking up coffee and chatting about it face to face, I’m prayerfully challenging myself to listen more than I speak so that I can know people more and see how God is woven into their stories and gifts! I’m pretty amped about doing this and am excited to see how much I know about my brothers and sisters by the end of the year! Thank you so much for doing what you do, Hannah! You’re an incredible inspiration and blessing 🙂

  97. Hannah, I am oh so thankful for your desire to encourage and all the talents you possess to do so! I’ve been reading your blog for such a long time and I can’t ever remember commenting, mostly because I’m almost a little too afraid of a social media community. But, here I am! I’m excited to say that I want to spend 2017 making sure others know a few individual gifts or talents that they may possess. Whether that’s writing them notes to let them know or picking up coffee and chatting about it face to face, I’m prayerfully challenging myself to listen more than I speak so that I can know people more and see how God is woven into their stories and gifts! I’m pretty amped about doing this and am excited to see how much I know about my brothers and sisters by the end of the year! Thank you so much for doing what you do, Hannah! You’re an incredible inspiration and blessing 🙂

  98. Thank you, Hannah! You are so encouraging.
    The past few years, I have had one word instead of a resolution for the new year. This year, my word is LIVE. Live fully, participate in my life, and BE in the moment. It’s a good reminder every day. And yes, spending real time with real people is an important part of that ❤

  99. Hi Hannah, thanks being such a light in this world! Your real but encouraging words always find a way to speak to me. I love that you wrote about sharing life with your people rather than spotlighting milestones and accomplishments on social media. I’m starting to come to the conclusion that social media isn’t real life anyway. I am constantly grappling with the tension between authentically connecting with others and taking advantage of all of the amazing things technology does to connect us in the world we live in. Just my two cents since you asked! Hoping 2017 is your best year yet!

  100. I love this, HB!!

    In 2017 I want to be better at being vulnerable in relationships, and letting others see my failures, knowing these are what will give hope, confidence, and enthusiasm toward them creating life for themselves. I love that you’re creating dialogue here and creating space for us to be open and honest. I’d like to create more of that all around in 2017.

    Game on!

  101. Hey Hannah, I love reading your blog posts + Monday morning e-mails. Always filled with sweet truth that I find so refreshing and encouraging.

    I’m coming from the first day of my senior year of college. These next few months will be filled with lasts, waiting for news on the future (I’ve applied to graduate schools), and trying to find a balance between filling my time with friends and resting myself.

    A “small thing” I want to do in 2017 is learn to really listen to others; to commit details our conversation, their interests and lives, to memory. And to follow up on the important days.

    Happy Monday!

    1. For one who professes so much care for others’ journeys and growth as well as Godliness, I’m very surprised and wonder if I’ve perhaps done something inadvertently to cause any offence? Clearly my words have been read and ignored, and decisions have been made not to publish or acknowledge them. If I’d inspired someone to create something, or if I’d received well wishes, or if someone wrote a song because of me, I for sure wouldn’t be ignoring them.

      1. Hey love! I’m a little confused about your comment? Is it in regards to another comment you made? I’ve not been able to get through all the comments on this post as of yet but I would never mean to hurt you! Please let me know!

      2. Oh gosh it’s so good to hear from you. Yes it was on the writing one a few weeks ago and I saw others all go up and get responded to and mine on your blog as well as Facebook a couple of times just get ignored and I wondered if I’d hurt you somehow… I was just letting you know that your words from all those years ago are finally being used as inspiration for a properly mastered album track and released to the world, and wishing you all sorts of wonderful things for your new chapter! I’d found some old messages from you when we first ‘met’ and it’s just incredible to see how far we’ve come in our journeys and I just wanted to reach out and let you know something you wrote has inspired someone in another country to create something that really has legs now and possibly another music video too! I understand you’re a big celeb now but I’m awfully glad I haven’t done anything to upset you 🙂

  102. Social media has been on my mind a lot in the past few months – it seems to be a hot topic of conversation with my friends too. I’ve never been a big poster through them, but I find I turn to it when I’m bored. Therefore, I needed to re-learn what it means to be still. Stand patiently in the supermarket checkout line, look through the window on the train. I like rules, so I started with only checking social media on Wednesdays and Sundays. That worked awesome. Then I thought about what I wanted to “get” from the various platforms and unfollowed everyone that I didn’t talk to on a weekly basis that I knew personally on Instagram – that would be my creative platform. I follow people and places that inspire me and my interests and hobbies. FB became my social platform. Then I took that off my phone so I have to physically log into it from a laptop/desktop. And you know what, I haven’t missed it. I’ve been reading more and paying attention more. I look strangers in the eye and smile, I see a fumble they make and we share a sheepish smile. We connect – and it’s so silly and simple but I love it! As for my personal relationships, I made a rule to call two people a week on my commute home (again those rules :)) and that’s been a blessing in of itself. I would constantly lament about how texting was the only way I connected with my friends. Well, I have the power to change that very easily – 30 minutes, 2x a week, laughs, catching up, making plans – sure makes the world feel less lonely.
    One of my specific goals for 2017 is to bring back grace. A daily reminder of what I’m thankful for – and a daily statement of what I’m grateful for. I also am trying to eradicate the word tired and busy from my vocabulary – exhaustion is no longer serving me and I can be more thoughtful on how I spend my time. I’m excited for 2017, I love the optimism of a New Year!

  103. Blessed by this perspective, this evening. I like the idea that we should save parts of ourselves for those closest to us and not run so quickly to post on social media or share with every passing stranger. Also, what a breath of fresh air to be called to invest and love people in our lives. So much negativity and heavy-handedness in the world. But what a difference it would make if you bought the coffee for the person behind you in the Starbucks Drive-Thru or if you went out of your way to ask the person with a scowl on their face why they’re having such a rough day. I look forward to loving people well in 2017. And showing them Jesus. Thanks for your writing!

  104. Fantastic! I had also started sensing this craving to dig into the small moments and allow the big. impressive ones to pass by. God is in all things but I think he especially loves the little ones because He knows our hearts may grow the most in them. I love that you are actively creating community in your little space of the internet. xoxo

  105. I only stumbled on your blog today, read three posts from you, and I feel you already. And when I say that, I mean that I’m just soooo glad to have read from someone like you in the websphere–a woman of faith so raw and real, I ache with every word that I read ’cause I know that I am like you, too.

    Seriously, I am amazed (with virtual goosebumps) on how much your posts relate to me and my recent experiences and thoughts. I know that God have planned my “stumbling” upon your site. I thank Him for that and for you.

    I am Christelle from the Philippines. I am a young teacher and a forever learner. I want to impart myself to others by continuously pouring myself for my community through my profession without letting myself be the cost of it all. For, after all, I cannot give when I myself am already empty. I am sticking to the ultimate source of everything, Love Himself.

  106. Well here it goes….HB I’ve been reading your thought-provoking material for the last few years. Merely a fly on the wall, creeping/scrolling through and never letting you know I exist. Thanks for offering a space for community and always being such an inspiration!
    This year I’ve told myself and my small group I want to be vulnerable. Whatever that means, whatever that looks like, this year I live it….

    P.S…I’ve thought about starting a blog. Any words of encouragement?

  107. Hannah, I love what you’ve said here about wanting your future bebes to be here and present and living a real life. I too, want that for my future bebes. I also want that for myself, but sometimes living that way is harder than I would like to admit. Thanks for all your pretty words, you inspire me to be a go getter & a do gooder 🙂

  108. I look forward to reading your blog, you give me hope for so much. I am excited when you post. I never leave comments though, I never get to tell you how much I appreciate you. Yes, you! I am so encouraged by you. I don’t want to hide it anymore. I love the way you love God. I am learning to have a friendship with him too. I love how human you are. I love how you’ve put yourself out there in ways for all of us to relate. I love your book. I’ve always wanted to write you a letter too. I’ll start with this comment. Keep pushing and trying us most. We are here and present and need those words. God is pushing me to continue to work on my own blog >>, thank you for posting all the healthy tips on instastories. I’m a fan. I am a HUGE fan of you, your words, your afraid moments, your buffalo stories, your prayers and your dedication to make us all be a little better than yesterday. You believe in us and we believe in you. And even though the real challenge is believing in yourself, it’s a challenge I want to continue to fight for. If God loves me the way I believe he does, loving myself should be a piece of cake.

    Talk soon HB,


  109. Hannah,
    I have been a silent follower for over a year now and I loved your call to action at the end. My eyes welled with tears while reading this. This piece is beautiful. Your blog is beautiful. And you are beautiful! My intention for 2017 is to express more gratitude – to say more thank yous, to remind the people in my life the ways that I appreciate them, and to thank God for his blessings more often. So…THANK YOU for sharing your words, heart, and life with us.

  110. This resonates with me so much. At the end of 2016 I realized how much time I waste on social media. I felt trapped, thinking that I would miss things if I gave it up, but also thinking that I didn’t care to stay constantly up to date with “friends” that I didn’t actually know very well. In 2017 I deleted all my social media from my phone. Being less attached to my phone has helped me be in the moment, to only record special moments that I want to keep for myself. It has taught me to reach out to the people I really want to spend time with to hear about their lives. I love that you talk about having something to yourself. It’s so hard in a time when we are constantly sharing everything, but yet it is such so precious. Your heart for people is beautiful and admirable. Thank you.

  111. Hi Hannah,

    I’ve realized this year that I want to get closer to God…but I don’t even know where to start. My family are all ex-catholics and my friends in the city (New York) are all more focused on bottle service and brunch than pursuing their faith…I don’t know where to start. How did you do it?

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