AHHH! What an amazing year 2016 has been! Lots of challenges, but loads of blessings -- just like every year, it seems. But the end of the year calls for some reflection and some recounting of the high points, does it not? YES, I say! It DOES!!

So today, I'm forcing myself to stop pushing forward, and take a few minutes to share 5 of my favorite things that happened in my little world in 2016.

#1 -- Business Growth

This year was a year of growth for both MJP and Align Album Design, my album design company. This year we added to our associate team with Rennai, and now have a total of six associate photographers! Between all of us, our studio shot a total of 32 weddings in 2016. We brought in college interns for the first time this year and also added to our team with a new Marketing Manager who I will be introducing soon! In April I celebrated my 10-year-blogiversary -- ten years straight of blogging an average of 3.5 times per week! I also had the honor of speaking to photographers at multiple conferences including WPPI and ShowIt United. Align designed nearly 1000 albums for photographers around the globe. We also produced an animated explainer video for Align featuring a cameo of me as a cartoon (bucket list!!) that helps us to more effectively communicate how we seek to serve photographers around the globe. On top of all of this I was blessed to get to travel to the Dominican Republic, Las Vegas, Denver, California, and North Carolina. I feel thankful and overwhelmed all at the same time as I look back on 2016. It was A LOT of work. But man, was it ever rewarding.

#2 -- Launching a 3rd Business!
Looking back over my business journey, it seems like I decide to do something wild and crazy every two years or so. In 2006 I started blogging, in 2008 I started teaching workshops, in 2010 I started my associate program, in 2012 I started Align, and in 2014 I rebranded and started shooting film. And THIS YEAR? I started a 3rd business. Why not, right? haha! When I first got this idea, I did take 10 minutes to think about whether I was crazy or not. But it just FIT. We're in the business of saving memories, and a photo booth is just one more way to help our clients facilitate that goal. And it's a SUPER-FUN one to boot! We launched Rendezbooth in June and have already done 12 events in the past 6 months. But we're just getting started and I can't wait to see what 2017 brings!

#3 -- House Updates
I've lived in my 1950s brick ranch home in the heart of Phoenix for over six years now. It's the perfect little home for Dixie and I, but it needed a few updates. Nothing major -- but I had some goals this year for redecorating a few rooms, and I'm so thankful I was able to make that happen. Putting love into a home can be a never-ending project -- especially with older homes -- so I have to pace myself and really prioritize what will make the most impact. This year I had a refurbished vintage laundry room door installed, updated some furniture and decor in my living and dining room, redid my guest bedroom, and updated my back porch. It's been fun to entertain friends, colleagues, and our team in my home and I love what an integral part of my business it has become!

#4 -- Raising $9,500 for Autism
As many of you know, I have two nephews with autism. So the fact that there is no known cause or cure for this epidemic that affects 1 in 68 children (an increase of 600% over the past two decades) is heart-wrenching to me. This year, my team walked for the 10th year in a row to raise money and awareness for autism. Our team was huge -- 102 strong -- and we raised $9,540!!! Amazing! Click here to see more photos from this year's walk! And thanks again to all of you who donated and walked! Over $100,000 was raised and will go directly to fund multiple research studies for children and adults with autism. I can't wait to see what our efforts will accomplish!

#5 -- Personal Growth
As an entrepreneur, work can sometimes dominate my life, but God has taken me on a journey this year, growing me personally in so many ways. I've been making some big changes in my diet and the products I use daily in response to some new information I've been exposed to this year and I look forward to sharing more about this journey in the weeks to come. In addition, God brought two amazing college-age girls into my life this year who I have had the honor of mentoring spiritually. It has been one of the highlights of my year getting to know them and pour into their lives! I was also blessed to be able to go on a spiritual retreat to the gorgeous mountains of Colorado this summer for the 4th year in a row, attend an amazing church, and participate in a small group of women who study God's Word. All of these tools have been used by God to shape my heart this year in big ways and I am so, so thankful that I am never left on my own and always lovingly called by my heavenly Father to grow and be stretched in new and life-giving ways.

Thank you all for reading and sharing in my journey! I can't wait to see what 2017 holds in store for all of us!
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