Goodbye, but not Good Riddance

By the time I finish writing this, 2020 will almost certainly be over. It’s so tempting to say, “Good riddance!” to a year that has not been kind. But instead, I find myself taking up the challenge of 1 Thessalonians 5.

1 Thessalonians 5: 18 (ESV)

18ย give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Maybe Paul didn’t mean it as a challenge, but if I’m being honest, that’s what it is tonight. This post is an exercise in determined gratitude. My heart isn’t overflowing with thankfulness as I look back over the year. There are no tears of joy that, no matter the circumstances God saw me through. There was a lot to be thankful for this year and God did see me through…but I’ve been in a dry spell for months now. Walking through a mental and spiritual desert. This post is me saying that, in spite of that, I choose to remember that God is good and I choose to believe that “I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” So here is a list of 100 things that I am grateful for from 2020. My battle cry of praise (in no order whatsoever except how they popped into my head). Please feel free to skip it if you like….it’s long.

  1. Figuring out before COVID hit that my relationship with God was a decision I’ve already made and only need to honor. I’m sooo thankful I made the decision to honor that relationship no matter what (see Decision Time) before everything went down. That was timely ๐Ÿ˜
  2. Meeting and getting to be flatmates with Rachel.
  3. Ditto Angela. (Both are wonderful women of God!)
  4. Sunday lockdown barbecues with our neighbors Emma and Michael. โค
  5. Successfully starting and cooking over a fire composed entirely of charcoal briquettes without any fire starter or lighter fluid on a windy and rainy day. I am the barbecue master.
  6. Learning to make good sourdough bread.
  7. Making an epic (though I do say so myself) online pub quiz for my family so they could experience the British lockdown craze. (I got 8 friends from around the world to say, “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father. Prepare to die” in different languages. Tell me that isn’t epic!)
  8. Being miraculously healed from whatever month-long illness I had last January ๐Ÿ™‚
  9. Completing my master’s degree in computer science!
  10. Getting a distinction in said course.
  11. And (get this) unexpectedly graduating with NO DEBT. (Only God….)
  12. Getting a job offer from the university to help support the same course I just graduated from through this year of online learning, which means I get to stay in England an extra year!
  13. Getting to work with a truly great team of staff, and befriend some of the lecturers I learned from and admired last year.
  14. Spectacularly non-English weather all through last spring and summer. Saved our locked-down butts.
  15. Night walks through the neighborhood and to Redland Green. I loved my midnight walks with God at YWAM but always assumed they were a one-time thing. It was amazing to unexpectedly get them back in such a dark time.
  16. Long walks on Clifton Downs.
  17. Bristol. If you’re going to be stuck somewhere where your only activity option is going on walks, you could do much much worse than Bristol.
  18. Celebrating my dissertation being DONE with some American friends. It’s amazing how instantaneously you bond with people from the same country when you’re an ex-pat.
  19. A spontaneous pre-(second) lockdown Thanksgiving celebration that was delicious with my same American friends.
  20. The unforgettable Thanksgiving turkey shower extravaganza!
  21. Clapping for the NHS every Thursday during lockdown. It was just…beautiful.
  22. Teddy bears and rainbows in the windows to entertain children home from school and out for walks. (I was entertained too.)
  23. Several weeks of truly wonderful screen-free Sundays at the beginning of the year. (These were cut short by COVID and EVERYTHING going online, but will resume ASAP.)
  24. Going to see the new Emma with friends and running into Emily who understands me and gave me her extra bag of American movie theater popcorn.
  25. Being dissertation buddies with Karen, and gaining a good friend ๐Ÿ™‚
  26. Watching a church actually grow through lockdown.
  27. Really yummy meals with my flatmates. Good food was the best survival tactic. And thank God for good cooks in the flat!
  28. Perfecting my roast technique.
  29. Finding a recipe for perfect fudgy brownies from scratch! (On my birthday!)
  30. Celebrating the 4th of July in England with my Irish, English, and Scottish friends.
  31. Celebrating VE day in the most English way imaginable. (There were scones with the queen on them. And her corgis.)
  32. The Vicar of Dibley.
  33. Watching the SpaceX launch. ‘Murica!
  34. The pre-COVID and between-COVID in-person church and home-group meetings. They were always fun and special.
  35. Being surrounded by British accents. I love it so much โค
  36. A flying adventure with Rachel’s aunt.
  37. Weekends with Millie, the adorable golden retriever who therapied us through lockdown.
  38. A perfect beach day with my Crossnet family. Body surfing, American football, beautiful scenery and sunsets, reading and talking and drinking tea on the sand.
  39. Visiting Emma and Michael in Torquay, England’s riviera. (Sooo beautiful!)
  40. People stopping by with cake or bread or other goodies.
  41. A fabulous (if wet) trip to Cornwall!
  42. Wetsuits. I have discovered a great love of wetsuits.
  43. A day trip to the lovely Bath.
  44. A working holiday with my friends Phil, Eranthi, and Eliana in London. A MUCH-NEEDED change of scenery.
  45. A couple of really great birthday parties before COVID hit.
  46. All those good times with course-mates that are really special and unique to university life. (Again, pre-COVID.)
  47. Visiting my brother’s family in Montana at the end of my last Christmas break.
  48. Celebrating the wedding of one of my YWAM teammates last January and getting to reunite with many of the fam ๐Ÿ™‚
  49. Puna team online reunions (both group and individual).
  50. Getting to meet the incredible Christians planning a mission trip to Nepal. Though we didn’t get to do the trip in October, I’m so thankful to have met them and hope that I’ll get to be part of the team that does eventually go.
  51. A truly great galentines celebration.
  52. Delivering scones to friends to cheer them up during lockdown.
  53. Picnics and the joy of seeing long-lost friends for the first time in months.
  54. Rediscovering the simple pleasure of flying a kite.
  55. Seeing God answer my early-COVID prayers so specifically.
  56. A pancake day celebration that will be hard to top.
  57. Learning that I really can do anything I set my mind to (even self-teach developing an Android app).
  58. Devouring an authentic Chinese hot pot made by the legendary Lea. Good grief that was delicious. A day for the books ๐Ÿ™‚
  59. Rachel performing cello concerts for our street.
  60. Flatmate worship nights.
  61. The UK Blessing. I cried every time I watched it for months.
  62. A pop-up neighborhood puzzle exchange!
  63. Long walks to Stoke Park with Alice and Zsumana.
  64. Half-price meals during the month of August!!!! (Best August ever?)
  65. Dinners with friends. It was actually really nice to have small gatherings enforced and get to know individuals a bit better.
  66. Not having to work my Easter shifts at Longleat :-/
  67. A lot of amazingly generous people who were willing to sit through my two-hour app study.
  68. Reconnecting with several old friends during a time when phone calls are the thing.
  69. The technology that made this pandemic (somewhat) bearable and allowed us to stay in touch with communities and loved ones.
  70. Getting to make life even a little bit easier for my students. I really do enjoy teaching, and it’s the best feeling in the world when you can help someone figure out why something isn’t working, or when you get to see the lightbulb go off ๐Ÿ™‚
  71. Yoga with Adriene, which has saved me from death by immobility many times over.
  72. Memes. There are some hilarious people out there, and I am so thankful for the laughter they provide.
  73. The patience I’m sure I must have developed somewhere along the line.
  74. Having the privilege to host the women’s meetings for Crossnet. It’s been such a joy to get to see so many amazing hearts for God.
  75. Ditto getting to prepare Bible studies for my Cornerstone small group.
  76. Those small group Bible studies in general. I absolutely love the variety of perspectives and insights that come out during them.
  77. Singing in the Cornerstone virtual Christmas choir. It was weird, but fun ๐Ÿ™‚
  78. Having the time to read again! It has been years and years and years.
  79. Unexpected books in the mail as congratulatory “you finished your masters!” gifts. There may not be anything better in the world than receiving unexpected books in the mail.
  80. Lunchtime picnics during the summer. Just me, a blanket, a sandwich, and a good book.
  81. A day trip to Westonbirt and getting to see the spectacular leaves.
  82. A flatmate walk on which we accidentally discovered the Badminton estate (which is beautiful!).
  83. A trip to Castle Coombe, which must be the most adorable town in the world.
  84. Discovering Blaise Castle with Laura.
  85. Exploring Blaise Hamlet with Karen.
  86. Biking the Bristol-Bath railway path with Rachel and Neil. What a great day!
  87. A recipe for sourdough chocolate chip cookies ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
  88. Reading The Cross and the Switchblade and being reminded that the love of God can reach any heart, and that it is transformative for anyone and everyone.
  89. Many many many walks and talks with friends.
  90. My mum making it out to visit me for a few days. Though we had to quarantine, we still got to enjoy a beautiful, cozy little cottage in the Cotswolds together โค
  91. Randomly seeing Stonehenge on our drive from the airport (completely unexpectedly).
  92. Making it home to visit family for the Christmas season.
  93. Finding the actual perfect Christmas tree, and having quite an expedition getting out of the forest.
  94. Meeting little Lily Bean (my niece) for the first time.
  95. Seeing her big brother, Luke, a year bigger than last time.
  96. Getting to spoil them both (a lot).
  97. A murder-mystery new year’s eve with the family.
  98. Enjoying the newly-completed play fort in the backyard.
  99. The incredible sweetness of time with family. It means more when you can’t have it whenever you want it.
  100. Getting to watch people I know grow and overcome and change for the better. Even if I can’t really seem to fully appreciate it right now, I can still see God at work all the time.

There’s a lot to be thankful for, when we look ๐Ÿ™‚ Honestly, I think when I look back on 2020 a lot of my memories will be fond or funny. It wasn’t the easiest year to get through, but it wasn’t a write-off either. Here’s to 2021. A brand new year. Whatever it brings, good, bad, or ugly, we can find things to be thankful for, and I know our God will see us through.

2 thoughts on “Goodbye, but not Good Riddance

  1. Indeed I love this tribute of gratitude to God for the blessings and memories of 2020. Think Iโ€™ll make my own list because Iโ€™m truly grateful for so much. I really enjoyed reading yours. Bless your heart.


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