49 Moments That Mattered In 2017

This time last year I was living in a small East Asian city with two of the best roommates there ever were.  I was riding around on a moped with fake hipster glasses to keep the dust out of my eyes.  In 4 months I would fly back to America, and 2 months after that I was getting married.

This year I traveled more than I ever have.  20 trips!  That’s more than one a month!  Some small 3 hour roadtrips from Southern VA to Northern VA, some a little longer and in the “cross country” category, and some international.  The first half of the year, the trips were solo.  Now, even though the travel still hasn’t slowed, I am so grateful to have a forever travel partner.

A lot has changed in one year.  I grew up.  I owned the struggle of living internationally and watched God meet me there.  I took responsibility for my health in new ways.  I committed deeply to relationships with friends, family, and a husband.  I learned to pray consistently, and to rely on the prayers of others.  It was a year that required a lot of bravery, courage and hope.

Preparing this post took a lot of time but I chose these moments to share because they’re the ones I want to remember.  I want to look back on this post years from now and smile at who I was as a 22 year old traveling the world solo, and a 23 year old, newlywed and navigating life anew.  2017 was a defining year, one I never want to forget.

So, without further ado, 49 moments that mattered this past year:

  1. Traveled to Hong Kong by train by myself.
  2. Spent 3 days in my friend’s hometown.
  3. Traveled to Thailand for a week in Bangkok and at the beach, complete with elephant ride!
  4. Spent the Chinese New Year on a Chinese tea farm.
  5. Kicked off Whole30 with an epic hike.
  6. Led a photography class at the coffeehouse.
  7. Taught kiddos every week at a village school.
  8. Alvin flew to Taiwan for his spring break and I met up with him and spent the week with his relatives, modeling for our pre-engagement shoot, and showed him Taipei.
  9. Sang on stage for the first time EVER in front of hundreds of locals at a minority cultural festival.
  10. Hurt my back in the lamest way possible- dancing to dance videos in our living room.
  11. Celebrated Easter with a sunrise hike where the sun never really rose, and if we could have seen it through the clouds, we would have realized we were facing the wrong way the whole time.
  12. Had the best bridal shower introducing local friends to American bridal customs.
  13. Chipao photoshoot to close out my time abroad.
  14. Survived a blown engine plane accident in Beijing, landed dangerously but safely.
  15. Reunited with family in Virginia.
  16. Visited Alvin in St. Louis and started moving him out of his apartment!
  17. Met Alvin’s family and grandparents in Colorado for the first time and celebrated my first snow of the year- in MAY!
  18. Roadtripped home to Virginia together and drove away from a terrifying car accident without any injury.
  19. Alvin met my extended family for a family wedding shower and it really started to kick in- we’re getting married!
  20. My Grandpa Obie passed away a few days after giving me his blessing on our marriage.
  21. My church community in Yorktown surrounded me with the sweetest bridal shower.
  22. My college friends in Fairfax came together for an epic Jamaica themed bridal shower.
  23. My bridesmaid AnaMichele came to Williamsburg to take the most epic and gorgeous bridal photos for me.
  24. Spent a weekend on the river eating our hearts out and giggling to death for my bachelorette weekend.
  26. Traveled to Jamaica for an epic week-long honeymoon complete with stunning views and a private pool!
  27. Moved into our first home in St. Louis together! (trust me, it looked nothing like this when we first moved in!)
  28. Bought furniture, started cooking, and spent hours watching The Office.
  29. Flew to Vegas for Alvin’s brother’s wedding where Alvin served as best man and I was the honorary photographer.
  30. I turned 23 and launched a new website and complete photography rebrand- Sarah Lin Photography!
  31. Started seminary.
  32. Made friends, ate lots of good St. Louis food, and spent hours watching Parks and Rec.
  33. AnaMichele came to visit us and we tackled the Arch, Botanical Gardens, and Ice’s nitrogen ice cream.
  34. Alvin launched a new ministry leading sexual recovery groups for men through St. Louis Cru.
  35. My parents came to visit and we went to see the King Tut exhibit at the Science Center!
  36. Alvin turned 30 and all his St. Louis friends helped me throw him an awesome surprise party!
  37. Roadtripped to Nashville for a weekend class. I snuck away for a little to visit with my high school friend Ashley.
  38. Went home for fall break to catch up with friends and family and shoot a beautiful Virginia Beach wedding.
  39. Took a weekend trip to Greenville, SC to visit a church we applied to.
  40. Photographed Randy Fenoli and his new collection of dresses at Maiden Voyage bridal.
  41. Went apple picking, photographed our friend’s proposal, and spent hours watching The Good Place.
  42. Flew to Arlington National Cemetery for a ceremony honoring my grandfather.
  43. Got in the Christmas spirit by setting up our friends’ Christmas tree and going to see the Nutcracker.
  44. Flew first class home for Thanksgiving, celebrated with my mom’s side of the family in Yorktown, and danced happy dances because my best friend Nia got engaged! 
  45. Some of the hardest classes I’ve ever taken finished up with flying colors. My first semester of seminary is done!
  46. Took Alvin out for a Christmas date day, complete with Pokemon build-a-bears, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and froyo.
  47. Said goodbye to our dear friend Kevin and reigned supreme in three different White Elephant gift exchanges.
  48. Roadtripped home for Christmas break with family in VA, celebrated our First Christmas together, and rejoiced over the best present ever-my brand new Mark II!
  49. Flew to Florida to take on Disney and Universal with my family. Alvin’s first time at Disney, my first at Universal!


Whew.  If you made it this far, thank you.  You’re a trooper!  I’m grateful to share these memories with you.

All in all, it was a FULL year. I’m grateful for all 2017 has brought, especially the conclusion of long-distance dating and kick off of our life together as a married couple, and look forward to the year to come! We’re ringing in the new year celebrating 6 months of marriage and almost 2 years together!

Much love to you all, wherever this new year finds you,




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