2020. A year that will live on in infamy, I'm sure of it. It's been dubbed, "The Dumpster Fire" of a year.
I'm not sure why a dumpster on fire is the epitome of horrible... maybe it's because of the gross rubbish that's now been set on fire and is releasing deadly fumes? I don't really know, but there you have it.
It's been a tough year for us, as it has for so many. But I simply can not, and will not, ever, refer to the year 2020 as a dumpster fire. Yes, it has been a year of hardships, death, loss, depression, sadness and more. And I don't just say that lightly - our immediate family members have suffered immeasurable pain, horrible illness and uncertain futures this year. I've battled with depression myself. 2020 was full of many horrible realities, and while we acknowledge the sadness and loss that c0vid (and the collateral damage therein) brought, we try to fix our eyes on the silver linings.
In January we discovered massive amounts of mold in our rental home and we needed to move quick. We were blessed by complete strangers (introduced by amazing friends) who let us move into their (furnished!) home at the end of the month, after only having met us once! Not only have we been able to live in a clean, mold-free home - but it's HUGE. Way bigger than we could ever want or need... and (miraculously) still within our budget. But God knew. He knew we'd be in lockdown and need the space.
He knew we'd need the half-mile loop to walk around the neighborhood each day as a safe space to exercise and get fresh air. He knew we'd need the playground up the street for Owen to play.
He knew we'd need the pool to enjoy the summer we weren't expected to be here for. He knew we'd need friends in the neighborhood for spur-of-the-moment play time. He knew we'd need the sweet community of people to quarantine with, chalk up the sidewalks with and shoot off fireworks with in the parking lot for the 4th of July. He knew we'd need a location closer to Bill's job so he could get back and forth to work easier and quicker. He knew we needed trees to set up our hammocks. So much silver lining.
In February, 2020 brought us this:
I refuse to let my child believe the year of his birth was a dumpster fire. This (not so) little cherub has been such a blessing this year, and his life in itself is a miracle worth shouting from the rooftops. Bringing this sweet boy into the world right before the pandemic hit was just what we needed to get us through this year. His smile is contagious, his joy is never-ending and his squishy hugs and giggles are the entertainment we need.
It's been hard having our plans tossed out the window for South Africa. Especially in the beginning when we didn't really know how blown-out-of-the-water this whole situation was going to get. We were so looking forward to the day we could touch down on the continent that stole our hearts almost a decade ago, meet our new ministry partners, Greg & Kristin, in real life and get on with things! What we weren't expecting, was a face-to-face meet up in the states! In a series of very unfortunately timed events (and 'rona), Greg and one of his sons became stranded in the states during a routine trip, unable to return to South Africa for nearly a year. Silver lining? They were hanging out in this part of America and were able to make a quick trip to our neck of the woods. We were thrilled to host Greg + E for a few nights this spring.
It was so great to be able to meet in person, share stories from the field and get to know each other a bit in real life. It made us all more excited to hurry up and get across that pond!
This summer our very good friends bought a little piece of heaven on the other side of the state line. Complete with a rushing river and mountain views, it was the perfect place to camp. And lucky for us, they let us go as often as we wanted! With campgrounds at half capacity or closed, it was near impossible to book a site for a weekend getaway. Any that we could find had hiked their fees so much, we'd be paying the same amount for a tent pad that you would for a night at the Days Inn! And if you know us at all, you know camping is life. So "thankful" doesn't even come close to our level of affection for our friends letting us share their slice of nature. This became our safe place and our refuge. Our place to get away from the city, breathe in God's glorious creation and go off-grid (we literally had zero service) for as long as we wanted. We decompressed from the stress of life. We hiked. We hammocked. We floated down the river. We camp-fired. We relaxed. We laughed. We forgot about the worries of the world. We saw WILD BEARS (okay that was possibly the highlight for me - bucket list!)
We spent time with our friends. Cooked amazing food over open flame. Sipped hot coffee while the fog rolled down the hillside in the mornings. It. Was. Bliss. And something we would have missed out on had 2020 gone to plan.
Aside from our little Squish, perhaps one of the biggest blessings of 2020 has been the relationships we've formed. We certainly weren't planning on being stateside for three years when we returned from Australia back in 2017. We were thinking one year, tops. And even as we inched close to the two year mark, we were getting ready to have one foot out the door as we prepared for our move to South Africa. When the world stopped traveling, our hearts sank. But the space that it has left for us to build new relationships and go deeper with existing ones has been such a gift. As hard as it is to admit, being on the field for over four years takes its toll on relationships. When we returned we were sort of high-and-dry in the friend department, with just a faithful few left hanging on. We've had the chance to refresh and renew those die-hard friendships and we've been able to make so many new friends as well- and our lives are certainly richer because of it.
While there are many, many things about 2020 that I hope to be able to forget one day, I simply cannot concede that it has been a 'dumpster fire' of a year. I choose to fix my eyes on the silver linings, and the One who created them, because ... - well, because it just seems like the better option, honestly.
How has your 2020 been? Do you see any silver linings? Drop a comment or shoot us a message - we'd love to celebrate your silver linings with you!