To all that choose to stop by and soak up the work I post here, thank you for being there. Without you, there would be no one to write for, shoot pictures for, and create the podcasts and videos that I love to create. Without you, I wouldn’t spend the time I do thinking more deeply, working to be a better man, husband, and father. You hold me accountable, and you give purpose and meaning to the creative stuff I do.
I spent most of my life, not knowing I was a creative guy. I stumbled onto this a little more than two decades ago. When I wrote my first article, I didn’t know what a pronoun was and still can’t tell a dangling participle from a preposition. And just so you know, I needed to look those things up just now so I could make my point. Thank you for suffering through my lousy grammar, flawed writing, and the litany of other failings I bring to the table each day.
I turned 60 in 2019. I never thought I would make it to 30, let alone twice that. Personally, it was a tough year. I didn’t write about it all, but we had a lot going on. Early in 2019, life was very intense for Ana and I. There were death threats, one thwarted attempt, and I don’t leave home now without at least one weapon and plenty of ammunition. I’ll let those impassioned by the theoretical debate on guns conduct their fireside chats in the safety of their homes. My family and I will not be helpless victims of brazen and hardened criminals. If that offends you, well, I guess you are offended.
Because we stayed the course and stood for what was right, Jesse, our former foster son and his biological mother are alive and, for now, are safe. Over the past three years, she got off drugs, left the gang life, earned her GED, then completed her training and is now a Certified Phlebotomist and Registered Medical Assistant. She will graduate with honors in three weeks and will start working in the medical field this month. Crystal is her name, I’ve written about her a time or two, and she attends church with us faithfully every Sunday and plans on being baptized soon. We have covered a lot of rough road together, but she did her part. As flawed as I am Crystal chooses to call me Dad now, I earned that in her eyes, and she is a member of our family.
I think about her story and how it will impact others when she and I start telling it, and I see God’s hand in all we have been through in the past three years, and especially 2019.
Foster parenting is challenging, and we experienced the very worst that the family court and the foster system in three states have to offer. I learned that if we don’t stick up for our kids and, at times, fight for them, no one else, regardless of their sworn duties and responsibilities, can be counted on to do so. We also saw and worked with people in the system that do far more than can ever be expected, even when the right thing gets them in hot water. I was inspired and humbled by four women in particular that are fearless and unrelenting when it comes to caring and advocating for the children the system. In time their stories will be told as well because they are a tremendous example of what we should aspire to be.
Blessed Bodywear had the best year ever, but also it was our worst in many ways. We had an endless series of eruptions and setbacks that pushed our limits financially as well as personally, but as we close the year, we can see the light now at the end of what was a very long and dark tunnel.
The year also brought many losses, more than usual. Some were sad, and some struck more deeply and painfully than that. But my nephew was born, and he is healthy, beautiful, and perfect in every way. And we got our little girls back in 2019. I won’t go into details, but Cady and Emma are here to stay, and when the “system” gets around to doing its job, we will become their legal forever parents.
There’s a lot more to say, but to sum it up, we got our butts kicked in 2019. But the way I see it, we get the last laugh. We got stronger, smarter, and better in every way with every challenge. The problem with beating someone but not killing them is that you can’t make them afraid anymore because they have seen your worst, and it didn’t stop them. We endured, and 2019 only lasted a year.
We got banged up, but we are together and tremendously stronger than we have ever been.
And so I am thankful for 2019 and all it brought to bear. It put us here now and never more prepared, focussed, united, and clear. And we aren’t concerned about 2020 and what it will bring. God has a plan, and as he promised, he never gave us more than we can handle. And all that we handled, only made us stronger. We gave it all to him when Ana and I got Baptised this year, and the feeling of peace is indescribable.
And so I pray that each of you finds what we have found and that you are happy, strong, feel loved, and have hope for what lays ahead.
I wish you a very Happy New Year.