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.
I’ve seen a lot of talk lately about how 2016 was a terrible year. While I disagree with that assessment in general, it is particularly false in my own life. In some ways, this past year has been the one I have been waiting for the greater part of a decade.
If you’re reading this, it’s probably no secret to you that I married an incredible woman back in June. It truly served as a watershed moment for the year, positioned almost squarely in the center. Most everything before that point lay in preparation of the day, and everything since has flowed from it as we have enjoyed and grown in our new life together.
While that momentous occasion certainly defined the year, there was more detail and nuance to celebrate and reflect on. Without further adieu, the year in review.
- January through April were saturated with wedding planning as Dolly and I nailed down all of the details for our once-in-a-lifetime celebration. This included a couple of photo shoots, preparatory counseling, and more.
- In April, I turned thirty. While I wasn’t thrilled, surpassing that milestone was easier knowing that I would be transitioning out of bachelorhood a couple of months later.
- Sometime in May I had the pleasure (or misfortune) of replacing the drywall in the half bathroom, damage due to a previous leak. I spent countless hours in that tiny space and learned some new skills, although the craftsmanship is mediocre at best.
- In late may, we traveled to Florida where Dolly’s parents’ church threw us a wonderful wedding shower. The kindness of the body of Christ continues to humble me.
- June, of course, was dominated by the wedding. There isn’t enough space to detail everything, but suffice it to say we really were blessed with the perfect day.
- Our honeymoon to Vancouver and Victoria in British Columbia was nothing short of fantastic. The cooler climate was a welcome respite as we rested and explored a place neither of us had been before.
- The rest of the summer seemed a bit of a blur as Dolly and I adjusted to our new life together, although we did go see Jim Gaffigan in August
- In the fall, we began leading a house church through Ethos. Though I’m far from a charismatic leader, God has used the space to knit a group together.
- In October, we took the opportunity to visit Ohio for Dolly’s fall break. In addition to visiting my grandparents, we had a stopover to explore Cincinnati, which was delightful.
- November was defined by a two-week trip to India, my first ever. I accompanied Dolly on business for the first half, and we had a wedding ceremony with her Indian family for the second half. While I certainly felt out of my element at times, it was a great adventure that I will never forget.
- With all of the activity and changes, my reading throughput suffered. I did read the following good books, however:
- Similarly, my absorption of new music tailed off, especially with the dormancy of Indie Vision Music:
- All along, I’ve continued in my role as a web engineer at Kindful where I hope to step into new opportunities in 2017.
Overall, it has been a year of transition in the very best way possible. God has gifted me with a sweet and caring wife, and I can’t wait to see what the next year holds for us.
As I was driving back to Nashville a couple of days ago, I was thinking about what I would write in this ritual blog post. Honestly, I couldn’t come up with much. On the surface, 2014 wasn’t as exciting as some recent years. I didn’t leave the United States, and I barely left the state of Tennessee. Still, it was a year of great change for me professionally, and a reflective look tells me that my life is headed in the right direction, even if I’m not always conscious of it. So, here’s what happened in the past year.
- Early in the year, I made the hard decision to leave my longtime job working for Dave Ramsey and join a startup called Kindful. Since I began in March, it has been a wonderful nine months of challenges and growth doing web development for a smaller company that serves the nonprofit sector.
- In March, I got my fourth tattoo, a moth on my inner bicep. It’s my first piece that isn’t text-based, and if you want the meaning, I guess you’ll just have to ask.
- Early in the summer I connected with a great new group of friends through Ethos. Though the group drifted as time wore on, some of the friendships I formed there have continued to be some of my deepest.
- From June into July, I came the closest I’ve ever come to buying a house. Unfortunately, needed repairs pushed it out of my price range, and the search continued.
- Around the 4th of July, I did my most extensive traveling of the year. I completed a road trip to West Virginia and back though Ohio to Nashville. It was good to visit a friend I hadn’t seen in years, as well as have some quality time with my grandparents and parents.
- I bought a bike for the first time in August. I hadn’t owned one since I was a child, and it has proven to be a good way to mix exercise and exploration. I look forward to using it more.
- On a similar note, I sold my electric guitar. Music has become less and less a part of my life over the past five years.
- Throughout the fall I went on some dates. I learned some things.
- In October, I welcomed a new niece for the first time in four years. Marielle Patrice Irvine is the sweetest little thing, and she kind of looks like I did as an infant.
- Along the way I encountered the following excellent music:
- Lastsleep and The Night God Slept by Silent Planet
- The Urgency by Saving Grace
- Everything by Ólafur Arnalds
- Heroes and Ghosts and the self-titled LP by This Patch of Sky (my favorite band discovery of the year)
- Lowborn, the farewell album from Anberlin
- Ixora by Copeland (probably my album of the year)
- Becoming Who We Are by Kings Kaleidoscope
- And I read the following interesting books:
- Surprised By Hope by N.T. Wright
- Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men by Stephen Mansfield
- The End of Money by David Wolman
- To Have or To Be by Erich Fromm
- You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan
- In more recent news, I am in the process of buying a house I found in December. It’s far from a done deal, but it may just work out. Coincidentally, it is literally across the street from the house mentioned above. Maybe God wants me in that neighborhood for some reason (Acts 17:26).
- Most of all, as I retrospectively look at 2014, I realize that the friendships I have in my life now are the deepest and most encouraging I’ve ever had. Perhaps that’s the biggest takeaway from this year that, on the surface, may not have been too flashy or exciting.
All in all, even if 2014 didn’t seem to have as much adventure as years in the recent past, it was full of growth and change. Life is progressing, and the year to come looks incredibly bright. Most importantly, may Christ expand his kingdom through me in 2015, regardless of whether my life goes the way I want it to.
I found these in my wallet the other day. Looking back at the year which is coming to a close, it’s safe to say that only one of those fortunes came to pass.
After 2011, I had somewhat predicted this would be a breakout year of growth and good things. Unfortunately, an honest look reveals that not to be the case, at least not in the ways I had hoped. It was a year of loss and transition, yet also another blur in the landscape of my mid-twenties as time flows on. Here are some happenings which stand out from that blur as I look back:
- Early in the year, my attempt to start a “tech relief” side business heartily crashed and burned. But I also learned that I wouldn’t want to do that full-time anyway.
- At the beginning of April, I took another trip to visit my girlfriend in Spain. This trip could not have been any more different from my previous one in August 2011. The weather was wet and unseasonably cold, and we spent more time in Granada with her team than traveling. After a week together and some deep talks, we admitted our lives were on diverging paths, and I returned home single for the first time in well over two years.
- My paternal grandmother, Lola Marie DeLong, passed away on April 19th after a battle with Alzheimer’s. She was the closest family member I’ve lost yet and an amazingly hard-working woman who did all she could to care for her family.
- Beginning in May, I spent a few months involved with a solid group of brothers and sisters at People Loving Nashville. Though my involvement faded through the summer for various reasons, it was exactly what I needed at the time to anchor me again.
- I was able to go to my first Cornerstone Festival, though it was the final one and nothing as grand as it was in its heyday from what I understand. Still, it was great to check that off the list since I had wanted to go since high school.
- In July, I took part in another great mission trip to Honduras. This time we distributed about 75 water filters which will provide clean water to families and communities for years, reducing sickness and malnutrition.
- The opening of The Well coffee shop was a marker of sorts, as it gave me a new default hangout for reading, writing, and working on things.
- We got Netflix at the house, which is probably one reason I didn’t accomplish as much as I would have liked, save watching the entire series of 24.
- Lots of things changed around me at work, including our switching to developing on a Mac platform and beginning our transition to coding in Ruby on Rails.
- I actually went swing dancing a few times early in the fall.
- At the end of September, my roommate and I moved from our 800-square-foot house in the thick of the city to a larger yet cheaper townhouse just a few miles away. All in all, it’s incredible, including the parquet floors.
- Joe and I wrote an entire album for Hilltops and Coffeeshops and recorded the vast majority of it. We just never got around to wrapping it up yet…
- Throughout the year, I read a few books which expanded my mind:
- The Will to Meaning, Man’s Search for Meaning, and The Doctor and the Soul by Viktor Frankl. These were a godsend and strengthened my worldview even as they helped me see things in a different light.
- The Wal-Mart Effect by Charles Fishman
- Wisdom Meets Passion by Dan Miller
- Culture Making by Andy Crouch
- I also discovered or purchased these excellent albums, even if they weren’t released this year:
So that is how I experienced 2012. As with any year, there were ups and downs, triumphs and devastation. Yet we keep moving forward. It’s the only option, really. I have virtually no idea what the coming year holds, even if I do have a few goals of my own. With the way my slate was somewhat cleared, who knows what God’s will may be for my next trip around the sun.