What can be said about 2020? Clearly it was a year that no one expected. Do you remember those social media posts about a year ago saying how awesome 2020 was going to be? Those did not age well.
Despite the chaos of this year biologically, socially, and politically, I’m thankful to say that our family was largely protected and blessed. I got to spend a lot more time at home with Dolly and Blaise. We traveled some and saw our beautiful country. Although we sadly grieved the loss of my grandmother, we stayed healthy and have a roof over our heads.
- In January I fully began my role as a team manager at Kindful. It has been a challenging step in my career, but most days I’m writing code as much as ever.
- At the end of February, we took a little family weekend to Chattanooga. The aquarium and hiking were a welcome escape, even if we didn’t know what was about to hit the world.
- By mid-March, I was working from home as the country began shutting down due to COVID. Those first few weeks were unsettling; I’ll never forget my first foray out to the grocery store wearing a mask. I’ve been to the office exactly once since March, but the business adapted quickly to the switch.
- In April I turned 34. I appreciated that my sisters and several friends drove by to wish me a happy birthday, a sign of the bizarre times.
- Since late 2019, my grandmother’s health had been declining. This was especially true after she was forced into isolation due to the pandemic. She took a turn for the worse in April, and sadly she passed away in May. I’m thankful that my mother got to spend about a week at her bedside despite restrictions, though I know that doesn’t make it any easier. We were not able to meet for her memorial service in Ohio until July, and it felt like a sea change losing my last grandparent.
- I shaved my face for the first time in May. It looked weird, so I grew a beard again immediately.
- Dolly and I celebrated four years of marriage in June with a getaway to Cookeville. It may not be the most exotic destination, but we enjoyed good meals, sleeping in, and some hiking all the more since we had barely left the house this year.
- My dad also turned 70 in June, and we were able to celebrate him with a weekend at the lake. I’m more thankful than ever for the time we get to spend together.
- Summer in Nashville was hot and miserable, as usual. We made the best of it with sprinklers and occasional runs to Janarty’s Homemade Ice Cream.
- All year Blaise kept growing and learning. He took his first steps in January, and by the end of the summer he had quite a vocabulary. At this point he is constantly telling us “I want…” or reciting parts of books from memory.
- September was a big month as we took a family trip to Olympic National Park in Washington. It was no small feat flying with a nearly-two-year-old, especially under the conditions, but goodness was it refreshing to be in the cool climate of the Pacific Northwest. The mountains, rainforests, rocky beaches, and drive-thru espresso stands were perfection. Blaise did really well, especially if we had time to let him throw rocks into a body of water.
- October finally kicked into fall mode in Nashville, and I must say that the weather this year was particularly good. Often it goes from stifling heat to cold without much in between, but we were graced with several weeks in the 50s and 60s. More than ever, it’s the little things. We did trunk-or-treat, pumpkin patches, and jumping in leaves. You really can’t ask for much more.
- I don’t remember much from November. We hosted Dolly’s mom for Thanksgiving, and Blaise turned two with a small party to commemorate.
- December was a total blur with the usual holiday commotion (sans parties), but we got to visit my parents in Ohio where we had a real white Christmas.
- I read the following noteworthy books:
- It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
- Garden City by John Mark Comer
- Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World by Tom Holland (favorite book of the year)
- The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer
- Fortitude by Dan Crenshaw
- I encountered the following noteworthy music (since I am old and mostly listen to old music):
- Prettiest of Things EP and Waste EP by Earth Groans
- Guardians by August Burns Red (favorite album of the year for me)
- Taming Tongues by DENS
- And at the very last minute, Dolly and I hit our savings goal for buying a house! So we will be starting that process early next year. That is a huge gift after working to become debt free in 2018 and renting (and borrowing) houses since then.
I know many are anxious to put this year behind us and get back to “normal,” and I am right there with them all. It’s a year of hardship that exposed and widened the deep divides in our culture and world. Frankly, it was disheartening, especially while raising a small child. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” As historian Tom Holland points out in Dominion, these are the foundations of Western civilization, even if Western civilization no longer thinks much about who laid that foundation. My prayer for the year to come is that the wisdom and grace of Jesus will shape my family, your family, and our world if we let it.