2017 – The Year In Review

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As I look back at this year, a few big things stand out from the goodness of daily life. My family (both my own household and beyond) has been amazingly blessed in many ways, and we don’t take that for granted. There were invigorating travels, a new nephew, job changes, and a huge blessing in the form of a home sale.

This was also our first full year of marriage, and by my measure it continued the happiness and richness of the journey we began last summer. Even as we settled into our life together, we began to look more seriously at our future plans. A big part of that will be paying off our student loans, which will free us (and our income) to pursue more of the things we hope to do. With the many joys and few challenges this year brought, I am very thankful for the gift of marriage in my life, and I look forward to seeing how it unfolds in the coming years.

But that’s enough with the generalities. Here are my highlights of 2017:

  • January and into February I trained for the Hot Chocolate 15k with Dolly. While I did finish, I am older and slower than ever.
  • In February, we participated in Fast Forward with our church, Ethos. It was thirty challenging days of fasting (in various forms) which truly stretched us and reminded us of how frail and dependent we are.
  • Early in the year, Dolly was hired for a different position at Lipscomb, that of DSO (designated school official). This means working with all of the international students to ensure their paperwork is in order, and handling situations where it isn’t. She transitioned from her admissions job throughout the spring, so we had to buy a car to replace her work-provided one. Thankfully, we found a red Nissan Versa for her to match my silver one, and hopefully that was the shadiest Craigslist transaction I will ever be a part of.
  • I turned 31 in April. Not much more to say about that. Yay prime numbers.
  • At the end of May, I got to join Dolly in Los Angeles for a work conference. We stayed in Pasadena and saw lots of sights in southern CA, even though our AirBnB was 83 degrees at night.
  • June was a big travel month. We joined my family for vacation in the Smoky Mountains early in the first half, then Dolly’s parents in Savannah, GA later on.
  • In July, my sister Abby had her fourth baby, Akaius James Irvine. For those keeping score, I now have seven nieces and nephews, which is awesome.
  • That same month, I picked up a side project at work to make some extra money to put toward our debts. In the midst of those long days, I ran some numbers to see if there was any way we could speed up the arduous process of paying off the loans. In a moment of inspiration, I realized that if we sold our house, we could be out of debt in less than a year instead of the four or five years it would take otherwise. I pitched the idea to Dolly in a presentation entitled “Imagine…”, written on a sheet of printer paper. Long story short, we sold our house, we ended up renting my sister’s place (as they coincidentally moved away for a job), and we should be completely debt free by February. I will write a detailed post about that process once it’s all over.
  • August and September were a whirlwind of inspections, home repairs, and moving due to the home sale mentioned above, but a whirlwind with a great ending.
  • Along with everyone else in Nashville, we saw the total solar eclipse on August 21st. It was an other-worldly experience for sure.
  • In the fall, we resumed leading our house church through Ethos. This time, in addition to pursuing community, we are partnering with Siloam Health for the launch of an initiative called Nashville Neighbors. The program pairs church small groups with newly-arrived refugee families for six months of teaching a health-based curriculum and hopefully forming friendships along the way. We have learned a ton, and we truly love the family we have been paired with. I’d be happy to talk about it privately if anyone is interested to learn more.
  • In October, we “observed” our one year wedding anniversary with a trip to Asheville, NC. We enjoyed everything about the delightful fall travels with the exception of staying in a tiny house – fun, but not recommended for a romantic getaway.
  • In November, I got to visit The Horseshoe for my first Buckeyes football game, a gift Dolly gave me for my birthday. Although it was a rainy blowout win against Illinois, it was still a fun experience with my dad.
  • Also in November, we made the long drive to St. Petersburg, FL to enjoy Thanksgiving with Dolly’s parents. It was nice to visit and see the new house they had moved into earlier in the year.
  • Throughout the year, I read the following excellent books:
  • And encountered the following noteworthy albums:
  • Lastly, I continued growing in my career and craft at Kindful

We are excited to see what 2018 brings as we enter yet another chapter in our marriage, that of being debt free, and the possibilities that will open up for us. May God guide our decisions and hearts in the year to come.

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