Thursday, December 31, 2020

"it was the year" of 2020-- the things I want to remember about the year that went crazy

Any other year I'd post favorite things from the year and share them here and I will still do a bit of that, but I thought I'd share some of the things about this year I never want to forget. I'll start with January of 2020, back when we all had high hopes of what a great year it was going to be. Remember those days? Fun times.


It was the year I took pictures like this and sent them to Missy in a text, laughing at seeing our names in different places with women's groups within our church on our church bulletin insert. She taught a year long study on the chronological Bible and I led a small group of women for Galatians part 2. I also started writing our first study as part of a writing team at my church. We had no idea what all was about to happen in the year that went crazy.


This was when I began studying and digging into the book of Hosea in preparation to help write the study we wrote on this book. My kitchen table was overtaken by study materials for a while and I had to clear the table every night before we could sit down to eat. 


It was the year I read the Bible again in chronological order—read what I wrote in my journal; how timely was that for the year of 2020? I've read through several times in chronological and I always love it, but I never do it back to back from one year to the next. In 2019, I had read through only the new testament and in 2021 I'm doing something different. Do you have a Bible reading plan? Did you know if you have a plan to follow that you're more likely to stick with the reading? It's true. Do you read your Bible, though? If not, why not prayerfully consider making this the year you start? Be faithful to the Lord in this, He has been endlessly faithful to us as His children.


It was the year I planned to spend more intentional time with my mom-in-love and our first "date" in 2020 was this night in January when we went to hear Amy Grant. It was a mediocre night of entertainment and a phenomenal night of fun with Phyllis. We had dinner at Humdinger's and laughed ourselves silly. I only tried to kill us once when I turned going the wrong way down a one way street. Phyllis, do you remember this? I'm laughing. Little did we know that 2020 would strike and we wouldn't be able to do any other nights like this. We did resume in December with a girl's day out for Christmas shopping and we made a promise to try and start this again in 2021. I told her what I'd had planned for us in 2020 and made her cry when I said that I wanted to spend more quality time with her.


It's the year I fell in love with our little choir baby, Bexley. I used to babysit for her mommy while she rehearsed for praise team on Sunday mornings. At this time, Bex wasn't yet walking, but she was so much fun and could crawl really fast. She's the sweetest little thing ever and she is the best stand-in for the great nieces I have and don't get to see often enough.


It's the year I came up with fun "get to know you" questions for our fellowship nights we used to have during Bible study on Wednesday nights. These questions are fun and made us laugh ourselves silly. I would share these with all the other small group leaders and enjoyed learning things about my new Bible study friends. 


It was the year I found myself at this radio station one day in February, in preparation to get the word out about a women's conference we had at the end of February and had a great time with these two lovely ladies, Amy and Barbee—they had an interview and I tagged along. These sweet friends are two of the writers on our writing team at church and I feel like I've gotten to know them so much better since I know how their brains work now, and I know they can say the same for each of us as we've spent a year together now. 


It was the year my husband and oldest son traveled together to New Mexico for some training with the sherriff's department and had the time of their lives, before the world closed and travel was banned. This was Todd's second year to do this and Graham's first. They were gone for about five nights and this was all of them from our city that went. I can't say exactly what they did and learned while here, because Todd doesn't like me talking too much about what he does with the sherriff's department, but just know that they pretty much lived out their very best lives while there as men who love to do fun things.


It was the year these two cuties turned seventeen and Graham turned twenty one...we celebrated them the night of Jonah's and Noah's birthday. Theirs is the tenth of March and Graham's is the eleventh. (Drew's is the third of April.) 



It was the year that I got a tattoo right before The Great Lockdown of 2020. Todd got one too, but I won't share about his out of respect for his privacy. I've always wanted one and finally decided on this tiny heart that I drew to remind me to always pray this prayer for all my guys and their future spouses and kids, Lord willing they marry and become dads someday: that they would love the Lord their God with all their hearts, souls and minds.


And then the world shut down and everything closed and we were all stuck at home together. It was rough at first, but I grew to love the time we had together. We had to figure out how to be together 24/7 without killing each other with our words and bad attitudes. There is a LOT of testosterone in this house and a lot of strong opinions. This was the year that made us stronger than I thought we'd ever be as a family under one roof.


It was the year our church closed down as well, along with everyone else's and our old worship pastor resigned, so this dear friend in the middle started filling in and we all started doing things in public and on tv screens that we never signed on to do together—we learned to sing and worship together, pretending it was a normal Sunday service and that people were in the room with us, when in reality we recorded ahead of time on Wednesday evenings and only five to ten people were there with us in the room. We had to act and make it seem as if we were singing for a crowd though, and somehow we also needed to worship the Lord with our hearts pure and open before Him. Looking back, I know He alone helped us to be able to accomplish this and someone tagged me in this picture on social media. Do you know Jesus?


It was the year we put family celebrations on hold like this night from 2019 when we celebrated my dad-in-love's birthday. 



It was the year we didn't want to miss Daddy's 89th birthday. Trish and I met at his house and we sat outside together in chairs like the ones he was in and had cake and laughed and caught up. We went for almost a full month without seeing each other in person and we decided enough was enough. I woke up a little about this too, and started meeting my friends with dinner from home at a park or in the church parking lot once a week, on Thursday nights. It quickly became my favorite week night.


This year was the year Drew cut all the arms out of his old t-shirts and he started working out and eating healthier. As I write this on Monday December 28th, he is down sixty something pounds and FOUR pant sizes. (I had my own wake up call regarding this as well, in June and am down about thirty to thirty five pounds.) 




It was the year of our home once again and things got done around this place.Todd, all the guys and Big Daddy built the deck and did all the things that went with that and you'd better believe I counted every second of that as school work for Jonah and Noah. Todd set the giant flag pole in concrete in the front of our house and I never thought I'd love it as much as I do. I still love this thing as it flies an American flag and a Trump flag. (We'll take it down if it ever becomes officially official that he lost, but for now we're still showing our support for him.) It was the year that Jonah would stay up half the night researching how to build an upper shelving system for our garage and convincing Todd to help him get it accomplished.


It was the year the new deck was our favorite hangout spot, with the new Edison-style lights and furniture with cushions like this chair to lounge on. 





It was FOR SURE the year of the funny memes. If I didn't laugh, I would have cried nonstop, what with all the anxiety I had at first over 'Rona. Missy and I texted each other almost every single day with a funny meme or an object with a cute saying that made one of us laugh and think of the other one.


Our first Sunday back for church in person came right at Father's day and I could have taken a flying leap off that stage, I was so happy to be back. I cried through the entire service and never has one been so sweet. I promised myself this would be the year I'd vow to the Lord and to my own self that I'd never again take church attendance for granted. 


It's the year we discovered that Jonah's hair was curly and it became the year he grew it out to see what it'd look like. He's not letting it get too long, but going in for a trim every three months or so. I still love it as much as the day I took this picture.





It was the year Missy, sweet Teresa and I finally took a girl's trip together. We went to a little cabin near Picwick lake and had a blast. We stayed in the cabin for a full twenty four hours and studied the Bible (separately and on our own), talked, got to know each other in new ways, ate an entire pan of Barbee's
brownies and poured over the notes she sent with us on the book of Song of Solomon.


It was the year my guys had nowhere to hang out except for in each other's home and in parking lots in The Ville. It's the year we got to know all their friends and the year they made some new ones! We love their friends and we love when they all hang out here with us. We love getting to know the ones they hang out with and when I took this picture above, they were CRACKING UP laughing, particularly Jacob. He was bent over, he was laughing so hard, as Todd measured Noah to see how tall he actually was. (It was also the year he grew to over six feet! He's huge these days and towers over all of us.)


It was the year that we didn't finish our Galatians part 2 in person and the year I did a study on 1 and 2 Kings on my own. I bought the book and the downloadable videos from Lifeway and dug into studying those books over the summer. 


It was the year Todd grew out his beard and the year I fell more in love with him. I started working on my own self over the summer and in doing so, I felt better than ever before and our marriage grew stronger than it's ever been. I can still say this, six months after the fact.


It was the year I loved sunsets and sunrises more than ever before and fully took notice of them.


It was the year I treasured time more with all of my family, both those under the same roof as me and the extended family members. I talk on the phone with them more, we text more frequently, we love one another better than we ever have before. I have grown accustomed to being the best cheerleader of those I know and love and they do the same for me. I'm so grateful for this and I thank the Lord for how He opened our eyes through hard times this year.


It was the year of Facebook live videos and the year of Zoom calls. I learned that I love watching Facebook live videos and that I hate Zoom with a passion that is unexplainable. I had meetings several times with the writing team and they all knew how much I hated it and would all check on me afterward. One time I hid in my car and then Drew found me. After that one time, I stayed in my bedroom with the door closed and prayed Todd wouldn't come in and start putting on real pants (as opposed to pajama pants). I'm laughing as I write this. This picture above is of Barbee's Bible as she taught on this book for Missy one night over the summer. I tagged along and gleaned from her wisdom.


It was the year of magical nights spent right here and the year Todd and I binged watched Somebody Feed Phil and started drinking a glass of wine every so often right in this spot. 

It was also the year that I met a new to me and dear friend and sister in heart, Shawn. The night I took this picture, she and I had our first conversation and talked on the phone for about two hours. It's also the night that Jonah's truck was backed into by a friend and it's the year that same thing happened to Graham while driving his work van just a mere week later, while Shawn and I had lunch together and met in person for the first time. (It's also the year Graham got his first ticket and that Jonah had his first wreck that was his fault in Todd's truck- but didn't get a ticket- during the time we were sick with covid. #thanksagain2020)

It's the year I helped her out with a high school Bible study on Monday nights and helped cook the meals that fed them before Shawn would teach them. I treasure her friendship and though I had to step away from helping her, I'll always consider her my friend and prayer warrior and hopefully she sees me as the same. We text pretty frequently with things to pray about and I love her and sweet family so very much. I got close to all of them this year. 


It was the year my sons found true friends in guys like Jacob, Max, Chase, Haisten, Josh, Jarrett, Major, Tim, Jack and others that I'm probably forgetting. I am so thankful for good friends for my sons and for my husband. It was the year that Chris, Todd's partner on the sherriff's department would invite them over for a cookout and a swim or he would come here and hang out on the deck and we'd go get takeout. It's also the year we stopped eating out and started bringing food home or cooking more. It's the year that toilet paper ran out and people hoarded all the meat and I had to start making dinners with things like Butterball turkey breasts. Who knew??? 


It's the year I valued time with my sisters more and enjoyed every second of Debi and Lisa being here from Colorado, like on this trip when Debi was here for a little visit. We always thoroughly enjoy our time together. 



It's the year I read #allthebooks and the year I read the best books, like this one by Sophie Hudson and read all my favorite author's books all over again from book one. I read close to seventy books this year and I read through the Bible once again. I switched back to reading strictly Christian fiction because it was the year I needed fluffy and lighheartedness in my life. It's the year I quit NBC and watching all the news shows I once watched and it's the year I fell in love with The Hallmark Channel all over again through the Frndlytv app on our television.


It's the year we all loved President Trump more than ever and the year we gave him support in any way we could think, whether through buying flags like these, driving in parades with these flags flying on the trucks of my guys, or praying for him in the middle of the night. 


It was the year that made me grateful for my parents and their health. Every year for Father's day, Trish and I take Dad out for a dad-daughter date. We always do this on the Saturday night before the actual day, but this year thanks to 'Rona once again, we bought dinner and dessert and took it to his house, and Dad, Sandy, Trish and I all ate together. It was really good and we may start doing that every year from now on, but we made the best of a different situation. 


It was the year that I treasured finding his writing in the margins of my Bible more than ever. 


It was the year that everyone's work schedules were wonky thanks to the 'Rona (how many times can I say that in one post??) and Drew got paid not to work for the first six weeks that his work place was shut down. Todd and Graham suffered as well in the medical repair business and weren't getting calls for jobs. We all took a bit of a hit financially and were relieved when the stimulus checks arrived. For us, it arrived just in time, as our money was getting low. God is our Provider, though and He never lets us down. Do you know Him? 

When Drew finally went back to work, he had grown accustomed to sleeping later and he would come home and pass out just like this at eight o'clock. #bless 

It was also the year that Drew dropped out of nursing school. Don't freak out—he is still planning on going, he is just on a break, much like the one Ross and Rachel were on. 🤣 He was going to one school that was terrible at the nursing program and communicating, so at the advice of a friend of ours who is the CEO of a hospital nearby, he dropped out and will transfer at a later date. He was going to try to get in for the upcoming spring semester, but thanks again to you know who, he wasn't able to do that. He has since had a few hiccups regarding this, but God isn't done yet and He's just taking us down alternate routes to get to where we need to go, as far as Drew and school. I'd love your prayers for him, when you think of him. Some things about the Lord that I know to be true: He is good, He is faithful, He is trustworthy. Isaiah tells us that His ways and thoughts are higher and greater than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9) and I know for a fact that for those of us who love Him and who are called according to His purpose, He is working out all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).


It was the year we decided on our second Bible study to write as a team and the year I bought a Bible study on the book we'd decided on before I knew that was the one that Amy had picked. It was the year full of moments like that, when God simply amazed me and the year I said that I never wanted to lose the wonder that is involved in knowing and walking closely with Jesus. 

It was the year we studied Hosea together with women in our church, across the country and some in Canada and it was the year we all learned just how timely it was to study that book considering the time we were living in while studying. It was the year that the Lord kept amazing me with His faithfulness—just today I heard a story of how as a result of studying this book, one woman renewed her relationship with the Lord by confessing some sins and making some changes in her life. How awesome is our God? Do you know Him?


It was the year the world needed messages like this and the year that I felt more at liberty to be a bit more vocal about my faith and the message of Christ Jesus. 


It was the year the pools were closed and I only got to swim three times. On this particular day, I swam with my sister Trish at our friend's house and we enjoyed every sun-drenched second.




It was the year of warm nights spent outside talking to Bill at their house as we solved all the problems of the world and it was the year to share books with friends.



It was the year I won a brand new Bible from a Lifeway women's event I went to back in January and the year I started making more notes in the margins like I used to—the good Lord knew I'd need a new Bible to get me through this year and He so graciously let me win a beautiful and brand new one. I still use it today and have thoroughly enjoyed it all year long.


It was the year I taught Drew to cook more and the year he took an interest. It also happens to be the year he told us he has plans of moving out around June of 2021 and the year that more than ever, I realized that God is sovereign over time and situations and that even when we can't sense Him working in our lives, He is always at work. His providence is around us at all times, but we must slow down to look for those moments. Do you know Him?


It was the year I got back to being intentional in looking for relationships with young ladies who are interested in discipleship, and the year I found Madison, a sweet young lady who will be getting married in the spring of 2021 and who is the friend of my oldest son's ex girlfriend. Graham had friends over one night for a fire in the firepit and when she came in, we sat and started talking while I painted her fingernails. We realized we know many of the same people and we have a million things in common. We've only been out twice now, but we have plans for one night next week, and her friend is joining us! I can't wait to see them and I have little gifts for them both that I hope they'll love. 


It was the year for all the home improvement projects and it was the year I repurposed #allthethings in our home. 


It was the year my prayers became more intentional for my husband, our sons, bonus sons and their future families and I started praying Scripture over them all again. It was also the year I started setting aside intentional time to pray for thirty minutes a week with my church family—every Thurday morning from three to three thirty a.m. I pray. I love that time of day so much that I signed up for the same time slot on the church website. Each week for one day, we have 24 hours of prayer and we have a chain of texts to keep it going. For instance, the man who prays before me texts me when he's done and I respond with something to let him know I'm up, then I pray and text the next person as soon as I'm finished. It became one of my favorite things about 2020. 


It was the year Dad and I stopped eating out and our Fridays became days just like this one pictured above. 


It was the year Todd bought a new Blackstone griddle style grill (and apron) and the year he mastered cooking all the food. He has done veggies and all the meats on this thing and we still love it as much as the day it arrived.



It was the year both Jonah and Drew had all four of their wisdom teeth removed the same week at the end of last summer and the year Todd and I may have lost our minds at letting them do it that close together. We tag teamed and survived and never have I been so thankful for the fact that I have this wonderful man to lean on.


It was the year that babies like these were recognized as the bright spots in a difficult year. 


It was the year that I became a real published author and did things that made me uncomfortable—things like leading worship for Bible study on Wednesday mornings, being a part of videos and speaking to three different cameras while we recorded, giving a welcome each week into a microphone to the women in our study, and teaching in moments when ladies weren't as talkative. Teaching is NOT my spiritual gift, though I can lead a small group of fascilitate a conversation.



It was the year I put up all the decorations early because I needed some joy in my life that was tangible and it was the year that Missy and I got our picture made with the Queen! 


It was the year I didn't wear lipstick because of the mask mandates. 


It was the year I started wanting to dress more like this and the year I shopped for clothing items to replace old things that needed to be tossed. 


It was the year my sister Lisa came home to surprise all of us and scared me half to death by sneaking up behind me as I was cooking dinner. I hadn't seen her in a solid year until this night and cried. 



It was the year Todd put up a tv outside and the year I finally started reading the Harry Potter books. #betterlatethannever 


It was the year I discovered how much I love ponchos, the year my glasses became a permanent fixture and the year I started wearing lipstick again, mask or no mask, because chapped lips are NO JOKE.


It was the year of very good things in our marriage and times when I woke up to sweet messages like this.


It was the year I made the front porch cute and the year we had our front flower beds designed and professionally done. 


It was the year I discovered that I need a full length mirror in our bedroom as I used to boys' bathroom mirror each morning.





It was the year of us becoming twenty four years strong in our marriage, the year of good hair and hair color, the year I rekindled my love for dark nail polish and it was the year I cried over Alex's tattoo, not because he got one, but because he got this as a gift to honor his mom's memory because she is with Jesus (and has been for six years). 


It was the year I loved reliving pictures like this one, of Todd and me kissing the summer after we graduated and it was the year I discovered I haven't lost my touch with putting babies to sleep. 







It was the year Trish and I flew to Denver to see Lisa and Debi and to spend a magical weekend together at The Broadmoor in honor of Debi's birthday. It was also the year I discovered how much I love Google Pixel phones, Cowboy the Golden Retriever and my dog nephew and spending quality time with my sisters. 


It was the year of bringing home takout food or finding fun date night alternatives, like the night Todd and I found the Cousin's Maine Lobster food truck and eating this deliciousness in his truck. 




It was the year I remembered why I love soft sweaters and a year full of magical Christmasy moments, like this day Mom and I went and window shopped at Christmas open houses in The Ville and in all our favorite shops. 



It was the year I remembered how much I love to doodle and the year I rekindled my love of candy, like this night when I helped myself to Shawn's stash of candy in her kitchen. I'm laughing. 

It was the year that I started reading Christmas books and watching Christmas movies at the first of November. 



It was the year I was most excited to vote but also the year I dreaded the outcome more than ever before. Point proven, almost two months later. 


It was the year that once again, Trish and I outdid ourselves on Dad's Christmas lights and the year the Lord knew we'd end up catching the covid and be too sick to put up Christmas at the normal time. Because of that, He led me to put it up early and yes, I believe with all of my heart that coincidences do not exist. God is sovereign over time and situations. 




It was the year Todd recycled our old windows and hung them on the stairwell wall for me and also when I started to appreciate my man more than ever.


It was the year Andrea and I took our friendship to a new level and became Covid Sisters, as in we're so close we share everything, even that. 



It was a year the dogs loved because of all our togetherness and the year I bought headphones so I could watch Hallmark Christmas movies while Todd watched his shows while we recovered from being sick.




It was a year that I battled anxiety and needed my man to help me through the hard times, like in this picture when I was having a moment and he held my hand for a few minutes. 



It was the year I embraced all things Christmas and dressed neutrally every day so I could wear glittery and sparkly Christmas jewelry. Yes, I am that person and I am proud to be that type person! I love Jesus and I love Christmas—the two go hand in hand. 






It was the year I discovered something that thrilled my heart—every single day of the Christmas season (almost) I would eat lunch and watch an entire Hallmark Christmas movie. I cannot explain to you the joy it brought me and it forced me to slow down and embrace the season that it was. 



It was the year I started being at home more, so it made sense that I changed things in our home. I hung all these pictures one day and did more that go down the upstairs hall, like a wall of fame. It was the year that it became acceptable for Chip to sleep in our bed and be covered up with my blanket. 



It was the year of more quality time that I will always hold near and dear in my heart and the year I documented everything in pictures. It's also going to be the year that I spend too much money on my chatbooks. 🤣



It was the year of fun and different date nights like I've already mentioned and the year we watched one of our favorite young ladies tie the knot at a beautiful venue, during the Christmas season. As I am writing this on Monday night the 28th, she and I are texting about her dinner that she just made for them. 😍


It was the year of fun nights with family and great pictures like this one of Big Daddy and his boys. 


It was the year of watching shows and having hot chocolate together and the year of making changes in our master bath, like when I hung some things in there and we made more plans to repair a wall. 


It was the year of moments that made me swoon with pictures like this of Madison and Macy.


And it was the year of another magical birthday trip with my best friend.









It was the year my favorite series of books became a Hallmark Christmas movie and the year that our Christmas tree and Christmasy home were more beautiful than they'd ever been.



It's the year I became sentimental over the pets and decided I want sketches drawn and framed of them and the year that Twinkles is fourteen years old. I love this cat and will miss her someday. 






It was the year of wonderful times with my own little family and all of their friends and the year that we made many memories that included all of them. It was a year full of hard times, but it was also a year filled with precious moments in time and when I learned to appreciate time more.

It was the year that I learned that no matter what happens in life, God is good, He is faithful and He will be there to help us through the hard times. I don't know what is to come for 2021, but no matter what we face, He will be right there with me. Do you know Him? I keep asking, because what if you died tonight? Do you know where you would wake up? You'll either wake up in Heaven or you'll be in Hell. There is no way to sugar coat that statement and fact, but it's true and we are not promised one more day on this earth. 




More than ever, I am more appreciative of fellow brothers and sisters that I have in Christ, like this sweet man who dressed up like this to spread joy to people he came into contact with and who inspire me to be creative in looking for ways that I can spread joy. 



More than ever before, people everywhere around us are lost, they are hurting and they are fearful of what may or may not come. We have an opportunity like never before to spread the love of Christ Jesus. We have been given these moments in time to share Him with everyone we meet! We need not waste one moment that He gives to us, so I encourage you to prayerfully consider asking Him to use you, if you walk with and know Him. Ask Him to give you boldness to share the Good News that He has given to us, that is the gospel—He came to bring hope to a lost world. His birth, death, burial and resurrection are all you need to believe to come to faith in Him. It's so easy, but we overcomplicate it by thinking we have to change first. He wants us to come to Him broken, He will do the repair work within that needs to happen after that. All you have to do is believe He is who His Word says He is, confess that you are a sinner in need of a Savior and then you start living your life for Him. Pray and talk to Him, read His Word, connect with someone who can walk alongside you (this is why discipleship is so crucial) and dig into the Scriptures. Ask Him to help you long for Him like a deer longs for water (Psalm 42:1) and rest in Him as Living Water and Bread of Life to sustain you. 


I'll ask one last time, because it's the most important thing I could ever ask you. Do you know Him? Is He drawing you to Himself? Don't wait another day! 

Well, if you are still around, yay for you! I didn't mean to make this so long, but there were lots of moments of wonderful among a really hard year. I never want to forget a lot of the good that came from this year. 





Thanks for reading my blog! Love to all.

Jen. 

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