Without fail, whenever December rolls around, Barbara Walters declares her 10 “Most fascinating people” of the year. I imagine her flipping through glossy magazine pages, scrolling through tweets, and perusing the international news channels, searching for the big names, the showstoppers, and the underdogs that made the headlines during the year. This year, Barbara’s list consists of: Jennifer Lawrence, Miley Cyrus, Kimye (Yeah, I know, I rolled my eyes too), Prince George, the cast of Duck Dynasty, Diana Nyad, Robin Roberts, Edward Snowden, and Pope Francis. Now, I can assure you that I will be tuning in, and not just to see how much material Barbara can really come up with for a little prince who can’t even tweet back at his adoring fans (I’m sure his mum and dad are looking into hiring a nanny for him who doubles as a PR). The truth is, whether or not everyone on the list deserves to be glorified (really, how is it that the verb we have now labeled as “twerking” can skyrocket someone’s career…and land them on the “Most Fascinating People” list?). What I do appreciate, is that Barbara takes the time to identify those who made a splash throughout the year, and she proceeds to dissect their fingerprint on pop culture through asking them thought provoking questions; an attempt to get inside the heads of those who we just can’t always understand (cough, cough, Kimye).
Eventually, Barbara got me thinking…who are the 10 most fascinating people in my life? Who are the people who really left an impact on my 2013? There are many people in my life who have inspired, challenged, confused, and blessed me this year. So, I would like to present to you, Kelly’s 10 Most Fascinating People of 2013:
10. Courtney Mulder
I suppose if you could turn “Spunky” into a noun, this is what (or, rather, who) you would come up with. Courtney and I got to be co-counselors at SpringHill this summer, and she is as energetic and goofy as she is wise and loving. Spontaneous and fun, this stunner is the kind of girl who will send a snap chat of herself sporting a pretty pixie, announcing that she just chopped 18 inches of hair… just ‘cuz. Not only can this nursing major bring the most complex of illnesses down to an 8-year-old level of understanding so that I can process it, but she also has the biggest heart. Aside from drinking 6 cans of Dr. Pepper a day, Courtney’s hobbies include making people laugh, and loving on anyone within her reach. You see, Courtney is the kind of person who bakes a double batch of cupcakes for her friends, even though she’s gluten-free. Courtney is the thoughtful person who will text you the morning before a big test, giving you some encouragement. When Evan moved back to Nashville for the fall, Courtney sent me a giant box filled with all of my favorite sweets and treats, along with a note in her perfect handwriting, saying, “Incase you need to do some emotional eating this week 🙂 “. Courtney is my mentor and my friend, always giving me spiritual encouragement and advice with the wisdom the goes beyond her years. Courtney is one of the smartest, sassiest, sweetest people I know, and she has a servant’s heart with a leader’s spirit.
9. Jade Leer
Jade is one of those girls who lives a life you only hear about in a storybook. This beautiful girl has been my friend for over 10 years, and she has always been one of the most unique and inspiring people I have encountered. Jade has been thrown a large amount of curveballs in her life, but she has never run from them. Jade is beautiful, resilient, hopeful, quirky, and spunky. When she and I were discussing some of the times life threw her lemons, she bursted with laughter, saying, “I picture someone with a piece of cardboard hanging around their neck by a string, labeled ‘life’, following me down the street, tossing lemons at me”. Jade has never failed to find the humor in any situation. Jade is the girl, who after enduring pain beyond my imagination, will take a walk with me, and turn her face up to the soft snowflakes kissing her eyelashes, and whisper, “Isn’t God amazing?”. Jade is the one who can’t finish telling a story without being interrupted by her own contagious laughter. She’s the girl who takes up enormous responsibility beyond her years. Jade always has a song on her lips and a joke behind her smirk. Jade is strong, intelligent, unbreakable, expressive, and joyful.
8. Leanna DeJong
Leanna is one of those people who society just needs more of. When people are good at just about everything, it’s easy to develop an arrogant edge, but Leanna is the greatest exception to this. This girl can do it all; she has the voice and the face of an angel, she can paint, she can dance (she can go from a composed bio student to a socially acceptable version of Nikki Minaj the second a beat drops), and she’s a phenomenal student….but she has an extreme amount of poise and humility. Leanna never draws attention to her success, and she knows how to make fun of herself. This is the kind of girl who will leap with joy when she sees a tree outside that she identified in her biology class, because she just loves telling us about a piece of God’s creation. Filled with fun facts, Leanna loves to toss around tidbits of information that she learned in her biology class, and convinced both my roommate and me (both science-fearing-students) to take bio this semester, saying, “Take it! Then I get to help you with your homework!” It is rare to meet someone who has model-status beauty, but a heart that matches. Leanna never puts herself in the spotlight, and she is always looking to serve others. She is one of the best listeners I know, and is always willing to lend her ear and her heart to you when you need a friend. Leanna is talented, gentle, funny, compassionate, and loving; she is genuine, kind, and humble.
7. Macy Hoekwater
Ah yes, Macy. Anyone who knows me knew this one was coming. Macy is the kind of girl you just look at and say, “I want this girl to be my best friend”, but you’re almost intimidated to pursue the friendship, because she’s just that cool. Macy is fun, creative, smart, clever, stylish, and effortlessly cool, but none of it goes to her head. Macy loves to laugh at herself, and she goes out of her way to make everyone feel included and welcome. Out of all of the social butterflies, she certainly has the most elaborate wings; this girl has more social ease than an Upper East Side socialite, and almost everywhere you go with her, someone will be calling her name across the campus paths, waving, “Hi Macy!”. Macy is incredibly down to earth, and she has the biggest heart. Macy’s passion is to serve others, and she especially loves working with kids who have autism. During camp this summer, it was the coolest thing to see Macy use her strong gifts for social interaction to help kids who struggled with communicating in a social setting; it was like watching the social butterfly delicately shake some of the color off of her wings onto theirs. Macy is also always counting her blessings. This year, she took time out of her busy day (faithfully, every single day) to write down the things she was thankful for in her gratitude journal. Macy makes me laugh with her quick wit, her clever commentary on awkward situations of all kinds, and her insightful observations. Macy is thoughtful, encouraging, friendly, fun, faithful, humble, and beautiful.
6. Evan Metcalf
Okay, well this was sort of a given. Evan puts up with more of my nonsense than anyone else, and he never makes me feel bad about the times when I lose my cool or mess up. Evan pushes me to be a better person, and sometimes I don’t want to hear what he has to say, because I know it will be something along the lines of, “Kells, you should forgive him”, or, “I won’t tell you what to do, but it might be a good idea to apologize to her”. Evan isn’t afraid to challenge people, or tell them what they don’t want to hear. Evan is one of the most honest people I know, and he has the strongest work ethic I have ever seen in a male college student. Evan’s work ethic and desire to improve himself really motivates me to be the best person I can be, and he always encourages me during the process, celebrates my successes with me, and helps me brush off my failures. Evan has a remarkable social ease, and he can hang out with any group of people without altering himself to fit in. Besides the fact that he has a lucky streak that rival’s Forest Gump’s, he is definitely a people person. Evan is the kind of son who walks into the house declaring, “Your favorite son is home!” and proceeds to pick up his mom, and spin her around, or poke her. Evan is also an incredible student, and he had conquered his finals, he spent the first day of his Christmas Break quizzing me on my psychology exam until it was burned into my memory. Evan is friendly to everyone he meets, works hard, and genuinely cares about others. He doesn’t limit himself to investing in one person, but shows an interest in the life of everyone he meets, and he works hard to maintain close and personal relationships with as many people as he can. He also pushes me in my spiritual life, like sending me a link to his church sermon about worry when I’m nervous about something, or buying me a devotional book as one of my Christmas presents. Evan is a natural leader, a social powerhouse, a hard worker, and devoted friend to whoever needs one.
5. Jimmy Doles
He’s a character. There is no question that Jimmy Doles is fascinating. Whenever I return home from work or school, Jimmy greets me with a sports statistic or fun fact. The boy organized his own fantasy football league among my dad, brother, and our neighbors, even convincing my mom to pick up some wings from B-dubs to serve as the event’s catering. Jimmy is also one of the most observant kids out there. Jimmy has an amazing capacity to pick up on the emotions of others, like attempting to serve my mom saltines on the couch (Grecian grape-feeding style) when she was sick. He is passionate about the things that peak his interest, and he has some killer dance moves too. Jimmy approaches life cautiously, but jumps right in once he has a feel for it. Jimmy also looks into the details to make sure that everyone is taken care of and happy. This summer, when Jimmy was at SpringHill day camp, my parents were making some food for the camp counselors to eat at lunch. Jimmy, discovering that one of his counselors could not eat gluten, asked my mom to make sure that she made a dessert that was gluten free, “So Miss Mel can eat dessert too!” Jimmy has a big heart, and he brings a huge supply of joy to my family. Jimmy’s clever comments, goofy dances, his adorable caution, and loving gestures add so much dimension to the dynamics of my family.
4. Julie Doles
Where to start. Julie is probably one of the most unpredictable people you can encounter. She is sassy and spunky, and says what comes to her mind, and she’s probably one of the most expressive people. You never really have to wonder what she’s thinking, because she will probably tell you. A lover of all things beautiful, Julie has a great eye, and she loves to make people feel and look their best. She will often chase me around the house with mascara, saying, “Let me make your eyes pop!” She really seeks the best in everything, and she can envision everything’s potential. Julie is someone who is realistic enough to acknowledge brokenness, but optimistic enough to search for the potential beauty that can derive from it. “Beautiful Things” should be her life anthem; the theme song of her perspective and approach to life. Julie also has a lot of hidden strength. Even when everything could be going wrong, she never stoops to the level of sub tweeting (like many teenage girls might be tempted to do). She also does not limit herself to one type of friend group; her pet peeve is exclusive social formats, and she never views herself to be “too cool” to interact with anyone. Julie is also extremely forgiving. She is a queen of second chances, but she is wise enough to discern when a friendship is no longer of goodness or value. Julie is definitely a fascinating person, and she has learned so much within the year of 2013. Julie is social, friendly, forgiving, spunky, gorgeous, lively, expressive, radiant, and complimentary.
3. Tommy Doles
Manchild. Tommy is one of those people who totally struck the genetic jackpot in every way possible. It’s almost not fair, but nobody even questions God’s methods of talent distribution on this one, because he’s just such a wonderful person. He often gives the liturgy in church, he’s good with kids, he has fabulous grades, he is a Peer Listener, he’s part of Rotary Club, he’s on student congress, he speaks in his school chapels, and he’s played 3 different sports in high school, and baseball and football state championship rings in his dresser. But you see, he is one of the most humble human beings. It’s hard to understand that someone who is so talented can be so nice, and filled with so much humility. Tommy is just an example of a great kid who actively uses his talents to spread his “square inch” of God’s Kingdom. Tommy is one of the goofiest, weirdest, happiest, and talented guys out there. He has high moral standards for himself, but he never judges others. I can’t come up with one time I have heard Tommy criticize someone. Like Julie, Tommy doesn’t see himself as above anyone. He enjoys being with everyone, and he never talks about himself. If you look close enough, you might see some blushing when he receives a compliment. Tommy is wise, joyful, hardworking, goofy, and humble.
2. Jacksan (Jack & Susan Doles)
My siblings are great kids, but there’s a reason behind that. That reason is “Jacksan”, yes, the dream team, Jack and Susan Doles. My parents really balance each other out, and they have always referred to the other as their best friend. They always have fun, playfully mocking each other and joking their way through almost every situation. Their teamwork is seamless, and their is no hierarchy in their marriage. They make decisions equally, and they each bring something a little different to the table. The longest argument I have ever heard them have lasted about 45 seconds, and they have never raised their voices at each other. They are an incredible example of what a marriage should look like, and I have always looked to their marriage as a guideline for how I want to act in my relationship. They are wise, and they have never tried to be the “cool” parents. If my siblings and I hit them with our finest piece of ammo, “But Moooooommmm, Daaaaaaaad, all my friends’ parents are letting them go/do it/see it!”, they are never phased. My Mom’s favorite saying is always, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should”, and because of that advice, and their high expectations for me as a person, I always hear that voice in my head when I can sense that something isn’t the best idea, or when I feel like a situation could get sticky. My parents have helped my siblings and me develop a strong moral compass, and they have taught us that it doesn’t matter what people think about you, as long as you can embrace who you are with a clear conscience before you go to sleep at night. My parents have showed me what it looks like to love selflessly, to put God first, and to work hard.
1. Jarilyn (Jim and Marilyn Niewiek)
Much cooler than Kimye, Jarilyn (aka Jim and Marilyn Niewiek) is definitely a power couple. Jim and Marilyn know how to love and display teamwork in the best and the worst of circumstances. My Grandparents have taught me to value family, and they have provided my family with so many amazing opportunities and experiences, like family vacations with all of our cousins to Florida every other year, a cruise, and many other traditions. My Grandpa and Grandma balance each other out perfectly, like a latte. My Grandma is spunky, kind, encouraging, and enthusiastic, kind of like the hot coffee, and my Grandpa is mellow, calm, gentle, wise, and a quiet leader, sort of like the cool milk. My Grandparents have worked so hard to create a tight-knit family that is centered around Christ. They love to serve others, and bring joy to everyone around them. My Grandma sends me daily mirror-selfies of her outfit of the day, and lots of cute snap chats, mainly of whatever dessert she is eating, friends she is hanging out with, or clothing she is wearing. My Grandpa gives a lot through his wise words, and he would always stop by my house with donuts for us on his way to work. My Grandparents are very present, and very involved. Whether it’s a state championship football game, a middle school musical, a band concert, or a kindergarten rec. center soccer game, they’ll be in the stands/theatre/audience supporting us. They love to tease each other, and they find the beauty in every situation. They don’t let things get them down. They search for the ways to make lemonade out of every single lemon tossed their way. When they lost their son when he was only 24, they became active leaders in a grief group, helping others cope with crippling losses. My Grandma said, “Steve’s death would have been in vain if we didn’t make something good out of it. That strikes me that it was what we need to do, comfort those who need to be comforted. Using pain to help someone else. Some people just become bitter and don’t help anybody, but what good is that? Then it’s all in vain, isn’t it?” My Grandparents have also made many adjustments when my Grandpa was diagnosed with ALS a couple years ago. They continue to lean on God and their family, and they make the best of the situation, not questioning God. They continually tell our family, “God is faithful”. My Grandparents are role models for marriage, parenting, and friendship. They show me what it looks like to be strong and courageous, and how to be supportive and loving, for better or for worse. My favorite thing that my Grandparents told me this year, was, “Kelly, our bucket list is empty. We’ve done everything we’ve wanted to do, and we have no regrets. God is faithful.” I hope that when I am reflecting on my life, I can say that too, and I really do aspire to be like my Grandparents.
So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen! Your top 10 most fascinating people of 2013, the Kelly Doles edition.