(Kayaking in Colter Bay, Jackson Lake - Grand Teton National Park)

For whatever reason, my personality doesn't often let me sit back and just smell the roses.

Because if I'm totally honest, I'm a schemer at heart. A craftsman of life plans, goals and travels. An OCD ponderer of the future.

I often spend my time thinking of my and others' goals and needs, and how I can get us on that magical path toward realizing them. To be stationary is to lose ground by my reckoning. To stop scheming is akin to shutting down whole batteries of running rats inside my mind. And people, when those rodents aren't churning, morale is down, lemme tell ya.

But certainly one NEEDS to stop and take survey at certain stations in the year and see just what the hey-ho actually happened. You have to rest and simply be thankful that you're breathing and have few, if any, physical needs to be met (if you're like me). And that's just really awesome. I praise God for that, and not enough.

But the time for reflection is nigh upon me, friends. Certainly it is meet and right so to do.

2009 was one for the books. My books, anyhow. As I started the year in Wyoming, with the mercury dipping to negative 30 Fahrenheit, and then ended the year back in Oklahoma, with a record-breaking snowfall of 14 inches just before Christmas, I had veritable wintry bookends. With a warm filling in between (although, thankfully, I missed the worst of the Oklahoma heat).

But to highlight some moments, I've conscripted my friend, the List. I trust he will be succinct, if not informative:

-Rang in the New Year with old and new friends at the Stuart casa, while meeting the extended Ling familia for the first time. Xiao Chen and XiaoYi, you'll have to revisit Oklahoma, perhaps when it's warmer! (for your sakes')

-Won an award from the Wyoming Press Association for my photography.

-Saw B.B. King live.

-Saw some of America's most beautiful scenery with some great friends and family: Yellowstone Nat'l Park two times; camped in Grand Teton National Park; Mt. Rushmore and Custer State Park; Bozeman, MT; Sun Valley, ID.

-Increased my "been-to" state count to 38.

-Lived alone in Wyoming and realized (through the loneliness) my utter need for God's daily grace as a result of those low times.

-Was blessed by really awesome Wyoming friends and a very supportive church family. Holla!

-Enjoyed Wyoming visits by Mr. Loeffler and J Voth and J Aldrich. You don't know how much those good times meant to me, boys.

-Quit my newspaper job and moved back to Oklahoma without a concrete plan(!) of what was next. 

-Was unemployed for 1.5 months.

-Became one of those hyped "40 million Americans without health insurance," a status I still hold (although I'm working on that).

-Saw U2 live with JA. Thanks for treating me, buddy.

-Found a great writing/photog job at a nearby newspaper. Then got another paying blogging gig on top of that. Scawing!

-Had a lot of fun with my fam, especially the growing number of nieces/nephews.

-Visited Las Vegas with the Army Band for Vet's Day parade. (was somewhat underwhelmed by the city as a whole, though)

-Celebrated my 26th birthday. I am A LOT cooler now, people!

-Decided on a move to Singapore (Singapore!) to do full-time media missions work for two years. (a big decision)

-Further realized I have awesome friends who really care about what's going on, who I am and where I'm going. I also realized I really need to appreciate those people more. And how.

So how about some pics!

The most excellent Ling fam, posting up at the Stuart casa for New Year's revelries. Braving the comparative Oklahoma cold, they made the venture from Australia and Singapore...not exactly a stroll around the block.

Ah...the lovely countryside of Converse County, Wyoming.

Cold Wyo deer.

How Wyo rolls in the winter. Insulating blubber anyone?

The Wyo Gang on the March ski trip to the Snowy Range.

Grant Teton National Park at dusk. The most beautiful mountains I've laid eyes on. You have to go. Seriously.

Wheat harvest time near Sun Valley, Idaho.

My first visit! With Dave, Sarah and Hannah. Epic, friends. Just...glorious. And I think I'm still feeling that margarita we got in Cody. Sheesh...

Yellowstone Lake partially iced over in May (above) and the Yellowstone River Lower Falls in panoramic version.

Typical Wyo ranch life.

The Oklahoma snow storm to rule them all. 14 inches of powder on Christmas Eve to fulfill even the loftiest of white Christmas expectations and set a new state record.

Happy New Year, friends! Happy New Year, indeed.