They say that hindsight is 20/20 and I imagine we will forever remember 2020 as the year we wished we had seen coming. Or maybe not. If someone could have warned any of us of what was coming, I doubt we would have believed.
We cheered 2020 in by attending a Roaring Twenties New Year’s Eve party. We had no clue what we were welcoming into our lives.
I truly believe if you make it to the end of your life and can count more than one person as a friend who is as dear as family, you are truly blessed. We have a handful of those people in our lives, so it is really hard when jobs take them to live in far away lands – like Ohio. We were so sad for them to move but knew that God would keep our hearts bonded for life.
The year wasn’t all bad; we actually found lots of ways to experience joy. Before the world shut down, I got to be a part of our church’s women’s retreat. We spent a weekend in nature with beautiful friends learning how to slow down, to be still, and wait for God. None of us had any idea how much we would be using these skills in a matter of weeks!
Chuck and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary only days before the whole world shut down. We went to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, one of our favorites, for a night of fine dining.
Chuck shot a hole-in-one as a birthday gift to himself. He was so excited and I had the ball and photo framed for him.
COVID changed everything this year for everyone. We all had to learn how to work from home – the kids, Chuck, and me. We spread out in rooms across the house with our computers and made the best of it.
Palm Sunday and Easter hit us hard – like most of you, I’m sure – because we had never experienced isolation like that on a holiday.
By May, we were stir-crazy. We talked to our good friends in my home town and decided to make the trip north to visit. They were all living in a “quarantine bubble” together, so we felt like we were being safe. We stayed in a camper instead of staying at anyone’s house, and we grilled out, swam, boated, and watched some of the most beautiful sunsets God has ever painted in the sky. Chuck and I were both able to work remotely, so we could stay on top of things. That trip was so good for our souls and was a healing balm for our mental health. I am so glad we took the time and that our friends welcomed us.
Texas opened up a bit in June and the kids were able to go to one of their favorite places on earth – Camp Lone Star. They spent the week swimming, hiking, completing high ropes courses, and learning about the peace that passes all understanding – God’s peace. Unfortunately, CLS was only able to offer two weeks of activities for campers. They were forced to shut down when some of their counselors tested positive for COVID.
Seth’s confirmation was postponed from May to August and the church did a special ceremony just for confirmands and their families. It was really nice and I’m so glad we were able to have it. So many ceremonies and dances and reunions and so on and so on had to be cancelled this year. After Seth and his classmates studied and learned for two years, it was a blessing to be able to celebrate the faith of their baptism in a public way.
We had high hopes for school to start in person, but alas, like much of 2020, everyone had to pivot. Fortunately, our school district did an amazing job of getting teachers online and getting students into virtual classrooms. Our kids did a few weeks online and then were able to transition to split learning; with virtual classes and face-to-face learning rotating ever other day. It was stressful for the kids, stressful for teachers and administrators, and stressful for parents. But again, I can’t sing the praises of our district enough. They did, and continue to do, everything they can to keep kids safe while they’re learning.
As we began to adjust to this new way of life, which we all pray is only temporary, we continue to seek time with the people we love. Any time we can have with family or friends feels brings a sense of appreciation like never before. Logically, we all know that we are not promised tomorrow, but living through a world-wide pandemic really changes the way we think about life.
We lost my granddaddy this year, not to COVID but to old age. He was 101 when he passed, and we had to postpone the funeral until a time when it would be safer for everyone to gather.
This loss, combined with the pandemic, made Thanksgiving feel so much more precious this year. We were blessed to be able to spend a long weekend with my family in our tradition of feasting outdoors in my cousin’s barn. It was so good to laugh and cry and share stories and recipes and feel “normal,” if only for a weekend.
And now, days before Christmas, I offer a blessing for my family, your family, and all the families of the world:
May God bless and keep you. May you know peace in your heart and your home. May you be blessed with health and surrounded by loved ones. May you know the love of our Savior, Jesus, and experience the joy and hope of a life lived with Him. May you offer grace to all you meet, knowing you can give it freely because of the unending grace poured over you by God.