This year was a landmark year in every sense of the word. It is strange looking back to last January just how drastically our lives have changed. We no longer have to give huge sums of money to lenders each month, Dolly is getting to pursue her passion of photography full-time, and of course we are now parents! (For that last reason, please excuse any typos here. I am trying to bang this out while Blaise naps.)
That said, here are the highlights of 2018 as I sit, reflect, and down some coffee:
- In January, we became debt free! There is much more detail in the link, but now it’s almost easy to forget how much that journey affected our day-to-day life, and how free we have become since shedding that burden.
- In February, we once again participated in a month of prayer and fasting (in various forms) with our church family, Ethos. It was a challenging month of opening up a lot of space for silence (no Netflix or social media, among other things), but we believe that God drew us closer during that time.
- In March we took a long weekend trip to St. Louis as a sort of debt-free getaway celebration. It was a well-timed and delightful stay in a new-to-me city.
- All along, our plan had been to try to have children once we were debt free. With the blessing of hitting that goal sooner than anticipated, we were even more blessed to learn late in March that we would have a baby this year!
- Around the same time, we realized that would also mean enacting the next phase of our plan: Dolly focusing on photography full-time while staying home with the baby. She began transitioning out of her role at Lipscomb University and dove full-force into her business in August. She has done great building it into a successful venture.
- In April I turned 32. Each birthday seems to get less remarkable, but I do remember eating at Freebirds World Burrito for the first time and taking a long nap after that.
- We had the chance to visit Colorado in June to celebrate our second anniversary, and it was awesome. Denver was a little busy, but Pike’s Peak, St. Mary’s Glacier, and Garden of the Gods were spectacular.
- Around July 4th, I had the chance to visit my grandparents in Ohio. They had moved into an assisted living apartment in June after my grandfather fell and needed some more help. I’m so glad I was able to make the trip to see them, as it was the last time I saw my grandfather in this life.
- At the end of August and into September, we took our “babymoon” out West – Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona. (That deserves its own blog post, but I didn’t do it back then.) I can’t describe how wonderful that journey was, even though we calculated that I drove (since my name was on all the rentals) about 3,000 miles in 16 days. I’m not the kind of person who ever says, “OMG we are going to move here!” when on vacation, but let me tell you, if a real opportunity ever arose to live in Montana, I would absolutely take it. (Not so much Utah or Arizona.)
- When we got back from the trip, it was all about baby preparation until he came. October and November were pretty much a blur. We dressed up like avocado and toast for Halloween.
- Throughout the year, my 97-year-old grandfather, Willard McCrone, had been dealing with numerous health issues. My saintly parents devoted so much of their time to his care and recovery. On November 9th, he passed away peacefully at home in his bed. I’ll never forget the phone call from my mom telling me the sad news, but we celebrate his incredible life and the legacy he left behind.
- A little over two weeks later, we welcomed our son, James Willard Blaise DeLong into the world on November 27th. It was so bittersweet to hold him so shortly after losing my grandfather, but Dolly pushed through the trials of labor like a champ.
- Truthfully, nothing has been the same since Blaise arrived. We love him to pieces, and we also have a new perspective on sleep, free time, and life in general.
- Throughout the year, I read the following excellent books:
- No God But One by Nabeel Qureshi
- Unbelievable? by Justin Brierly (who has a fantastic podcast of the same name)
- The Brothers Karamozov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
- The Sea Wolf by Jack London
- The Expectant Father by Armin A. Brot and Jennifer Ash
- Daily devotions from God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life by Tim and Kathy Keller (highly recommended)
- Let’s be real, I will maybe finish one book in 2019
- And encountered the following noteworthy albums:
- I continued growing as a software engineer Kindful, where I took on some additional responsibilities
I don’t really know what 2019 holds, and none of us do, of course. Our family will likely move houses again in May or June, but that’s about the only thing on our radar. We are adjusting to this new life of parenthood, and I get the feeling that now, more than ever, we may have plans but God will ultimately guide our path. May you and yours be blessed in the year to come.