The Best Surprises of 2018

Like always, I’m torn about posting this list. We DID have some great surprises, but it was such a complicated, emotional, life lesson sort of year that I almost didn’t make a list. And then I did and realized how much goodness heaven poured down on us this year.

    1. All the changes in THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS. If you’re a member, you know what I’m talking about– it was one change after another. I promise to write a full post about it (with a conference post which is still in the drafts…).
    2. Hansie started SPEEDY TUKTUK, a development entrepreneurship in Madagascar helping cab drivers lift themselves out of poverty. He traveled to India with his friend Paul to source vehicles and had a fantastic time meeting people learning about business.
    3. Hans and Paul traveled straight from India to London where they worked as chaperones on the BLUE BICYCLE TRIP I led with my friend Shelah. Thanks to Shelah’s incredible organizational skills and the fantastic people who came along, the trip was incredibly successful and we plan to do it again in 2020.
    4. Erik had SHOULDER SURGERY in May, and while that might not sound like a super fun surprise, he’s recovered fully and is stronger than other.
    5. Hansie just had to jump on the surgery bandwagon with BUNION SURGERY in August. He spent six weeks in a wheelchair at BYU. While he would never want to spend time in a wheelchair again, he learned incredible life lessons and gained a renewed faith in the kindness of strangers.
    6. While Hans was in surgery, I made the decision to DROP OUT OF GRAD SCHOOL. My classes were so challenging that I realized I didn’t even have enough time to take him to his appointments. The entire family cheered and I spent a few months thinking about whether I wanted to go back to school in January. And I don’t. But that’s a whole ‘nother post. And for me, it’s a happy surprise.
    7. Ben took up the grad school hat with a scholarship to the University of Utah’s JD/MBA PROGRAM. It’s a four year program. This would have been his second year of law school, but he’s doing a full year of MBA classes instead (he says the MBA is much easier in case you are wondering). The next two years will be a combination of law and MBA classes.
    8. Erik’s enjoying telling ALL the lawyer jokes, now that Stefan’s attending HARVARD LAW SCHOOL. Stef and Heather drove across the country to Cambridge in August and they love the Harvard/Cambridge community.
    9. Before they went to Boston, Heather spent a month in GHANA developing a health care program for young mothers. Stefan joined her for the last ten days of the program.
    10. In the fall, BYU hosted a film contest for social entrepreneurs which pitted Hans and Heather’s projects against each other. Hans voted for Heather’s and they won by ONE VOTE. It was pretty cool. His project came in third so his vote didn’t matter there, but it made all the difference for Heather’s.
    11. I was lucky enough to go on PIONEER TREK with Gabe and Mary. I love trek so much. So much. EMCN Trek 2018 from Michelle Lehnardt on Vimeo.
    12. Gabe’s year was beautifully predictable– he turned 16, became a Priest, began driving and dating and gets cuter and nice every day. He’s Mary’s best friend and her lifeline in high school. Sorry, no surprises.
    13. Mary played NALA IN THE LION KING, learned countless skills and met so many beautiful people. Maybe I’ll write all about it one day. My proudest moment– the night when her mic went out during her solo and she handled it with absolute grace. She didn’t complain or blame or cry. She just shrugged her shoulders and said, “It’s no big deal.”

      Mary as Nala in 60 seconds from Michelle Lehnardt on Vimeo.

    14. Sammie’s also beautifully predictable– working as the perfect press secretary for Governor Herbert, writing and baking and knitting and spreading cheer wherever she goes. A happy surprise– BEN AND SAMMIE MOVED IN WITH US for a few months to save money for a house.
    15. Darling Xander survived a year without us. Actually we SURVIVED A YEAR WITHOUT XANDER. And you know something happy? He comes home July 19, 2019!!! His Mandarin is excellent, he loves missionary work and we miss him like crazy every single day.
    16. Favorite new musician– Walker Hayes. Go listen to the song ‘Craig,’ read the backstory and have a good cry. And then listen to ‘You Broke Up With Me’ and then just buy the album.
    17. Favorite movies of 2018: Crazy Rich Asians, Mary Poppins Returns, The Black Panther, Won’t You Be My Neighbor.
    18. Favorite new books: Oh! We can’t agree at ALL. You should tell me yours.

OK, I thought that was going to be so hard, but it wasn’t. And maybe I don’t have as many photos as usual and maybe my last three items weren’t that exciting, but it’s done. Make your own list! Surprise yourself with everything beautiful that came into your life this year.


December 17, 2018