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2016 in Review, Introduction

Or: a ridiculous year summarized!

December 27, 2016Filed under Blog#2016-in-review#family#fitness#podcasting#productivity#software development#writingMarkdown source

I originally drafted a single, mammoth post reflecting on this whole year—but at more than 6,000 words, that seemed like a bit much. As such, I’ve broken it into a series of posts, to be published daily through the start of the new year. Hopefully they’re a bit more digestible that way! This first day, you’re getting two posts; the rest of the year, one (at least: in this series!).

2016 was a long, difficult, strange, sometimes wonderful and sometimes dreadful year for me. It was one of the most professionally and scholastically enjoyable and rewarding years of my life, and also one of the most exhausting. As I often do at years-end, I am taking stock publicly of what went well, what went poorly, and what I might do different in a variety of categories—here, mostly in terms of my public-facing endeavors. This year’s summing-up post will also (for, I think, the first time) include some numbers! But first, a few comments on the big picture.

At the end of 2015, I offered a similar set of reflections. At the end of it, I laid out some plans for 2016:

I am going to set a single goal in each of five major categories in my life:

  • spiritual: everything in my walk with God, including my own personal devotions, my involvement in the life of the church, and my “ministry” actions in general
  • family: both quantity and quality time spent with my wife and my quickly-growing-up little girls
  • personal: podcasting, blogging, and writing for other outlets
  • professional: working in my new job and as a consultant, and carrying on toward the conclusion of my M. Div.
  • health/fitness: continuing to stay healthy, including eating well and continuing to stay fit by running and doing triathlon work

Early in the year, I made the habit of writing these out formally on a day-by-day basis—and I did this off and on. If you were to look at my little (Moleskine-branded and delightful-to-me) daily planner, you’d see streaks of weeks where I noted specific tasks and whether I hit them or not, punctuated by weeks and months where I did nothing of the sort. I have always found it difficult to stick with these kinds of things, in part because I usually have a pretty good idea what I need to do on any given day without writing it down somewhere. (I use other tools for tracking mid- and long-term deadlines for school.) In July, I started mashing this idea up with bullet journaling, and I found that I (a) really like the system and (b) also didn’t stick with it consistently. A lot of that came down to the fact that I got thrown off—horribly—by getting a mild-but-still-utterly-debilitating case of walking pneumonia in July. (On which, more in a moment.)

So much for last year’s ideas about how I was going to hit those goals. How did I actually do at addressing them? The answer is: okay. 2016 was not an amazing year. It was not a terrible year. But it had as many downs as ups.

My own walk with God remains steady. Nothing amazing to report here, but I’m more than okay with that. I will perhaps say more on this in another post, but the older I get the more convinced I am that emotional highs are a trap. Sentiment and true religion are not the same thing; and Scripture calls us to faithfulness, not spiritual feelings. As such, in a year with this many bumps, I am glad to say that I had no horrible falls, and I read my Bible nearly every day and prayed every single day.

Our family learned some Bible verses, and started working on the Heidelberg Catechism. We shared the gospel with people as we were able, and met faithfully with our church. We were not extraordinary, and we were far from flawless, but I think we did well. I hope and pray in God’s grace we are able to continue in faithfully doing well in the years to come. Certainly if there is one thing I hope to do more of in 2017 it is spend time with my girls. I am not a huge “kid person,” but these years are precious and go by quickly; far better to spend more time with them and have a podcast episode or a writing project go out later (or not at all) than to miss these little years.