Sorry we’re a little late with the Christmas letter that I promised in our card. (*Sheepish grin, a little diagnosis sent everything a little topsy turvy over here*)
I went back to the master blog post list to remind myself when 2020 started. Because this year has felt like five. Anyone else?
It’s been hard, absolutely. But it’s been good too.
Apparently, I’ve written a total of 1,428 blog posts. Now some of those were back in the days of Wordless Wednesdays, but still, I’m betting it’s right around 1,400. I started this blog a decade ago but forgot to have a big “we’ve been around a decade” party because 2020!
In 2020 though, I only wrote 58 posts. And that was only because I did 28 days of writing in February (pre-pandemic). So without those 28 posts, I wrote 30 posts all year long. My first post of the year, entitled The Ellipsis, would be nearly prophetic for the year the Vincents had ahead. I was coming off of returning from my best friend’s oldest son’s funeral and wrote:
I don’t understand God, yet. (That yet may never be fulfilled this side of heaven.)… I don’t know what’s next, yet. (Maybe I won’t know until the next happens, and so I wait.) This fog won’t lift, yet. (It will lift. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1)
As a Type A planner, this is the most unplanned I’ve ever been. Darn near unraveling. But maybe it takes unraveling to pull together what God has planned instead of what I planned. The dictionary says unraveling means to undo twisted, knitted or woven threads. And Colossians 2 says: I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery. (The Msg)
So I don’t know, yet, what to expect or want from 2020. Maybe simply to expect or want this unraveling to result in a new tapestry that is woven by the hand of God. Beauty from ashes. Hope from despair. Rebuilt and restored ruins after devastation.(Isaiah 61)
We had unraveling. And devastation. We also had joy and laughter and late nights and wins and an overwhelming number of blessings.
The eldest and I took a mommy and me trip to the National College Football championship in January. Apparently, because of my fog, I didn’t even write about it. I’ll go back this week and remedy that error. He got to see his beloved LSU, headed by Coach O and Joe Burrow, take the championship trophy in New Orleans. The trip was sweet time for me to get away with this boy-man who is increasingly spending time growing into a man with his father and less inclined to cuddle with me.
February was filled with the beginning rumblings of COVID while all three kids played basketball and went to school and Bray and I juggled our full time jobs.
March was when the bottom fell out for the world. It fell out in the U.S. while we were on Spring Break. So we ended up cutting our spring break trip short and promising the kids we’d finish the Utah leg in 2021 (we still hope to do that!). The Grand Canyon and Sedona and Page were absolutely breathtaking and we loved our VRBO house! It was a wonderful trip, even shortened.
The spring for us, like for all of you parents out there, meant juggling home schooling with being cooped up at home and doing your full time job from a screen with school zooms in the background. My screen was perched at the corner of our kitchen table while Bray had to continue to go in to work because you can’t remodel backyards from your home office.
We had a quiet Easter at home, enjoyed homeschooling from the farm in May (grandpa was even a class featured guest on cattle drives!), and Bray and I celebrated our 14 year anniversary.
There were so many hard conversations as the world tipped over with pandemic sickness and death, racial injustice, and political instability. We also had lighter conversations over the summer as we baked and cooked our way through all our favorite chefs and swam and remodeled our backyard!
That was the biggest gift of all – and I still need to do a post on that oasis we’ve had this year. It became a respite for all of us as well as other family and friends.
Of course, in August and October, the double punch of Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Delta smashed into the incredible Vincent family farm. Laura was the most devastating, tearing apart generations old barns and wiping entire structures off the map. All of SW Louisiana was devastated, and my mother in law and father in law were not exempted. It’s been long months of rebuilding, and it will take many more months, but the main house is now livable and so many friends contributed to help the Vincents rebuild. It is slow work, but it will be done because that plot of land has been rebuilt over 10 generations.
Fall began to resemble normalcy otherwise. The kids were blessed to be able to return to in person school. Little bit ran cross country with junior high athletes and excelled. She can’t wait for track in the spring. The boys played 7-on-7 football and their team won the championship Tully Bowl. A big deal here in Houston and a great balm to the soul. Currently, little bit plays with the junior high basketball team and is loving it (this is far and away her favorite sport). The eldest made the junior high soccer team and is loving playing with his friends in a sport he hasn’t played in a few years. And the baby is warming up with one of his best pals for baseball tryouts.
Bray and I each celebrated another turn around the sun in our 40s, the kids turned 11 in the fall, and we are so grateful that each of our parents is with us and celebrating another year. I have missed seeing my father in Oklahoma especially but we are praying after he gets the vaccine and I get my treatments we can visit in person again!
Which of course leads us to the 2020 finale. I was diagnosed with breast cancer this month. God has been in the big and small details and I’m going to be treated at MD Anderson in the medical center and am so thankful we have such incredible resources available to us here in Houston.
My best friend sent me a song this morning, one I love, called Another in the Fire. There’s a line at the end of the song that says, I’ll count the joy come every battle, cause I know that’s where You’ll be.
There is such joy this season. There is such hope this season. There is such peace this season. We do not get it from the incredibly dark circumstances around us. We find it in the manger and we find it in the cross. We find it in knowing that we are not alone. “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him…” (Romans 8:28)
We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a 2021 filled with promise, love, joy and healing.
Love, The Vincents
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