Looking Back on 2017, the Year of Firsts
I don’t recall if I’ve ever written any sort of year-in-review blog post or even social media post, but this year I have had so many firsts that I wanted to reflect on and share my thanks for.
In the health department I not only reached my initial target goal weight but actually surpassed it, and my second target. I think this year I’ve weighed the least that I have in 26 years. I have always struggled with my weight and living a more healthy lifestyle. I attribute my success primarily to my wife, and also to the encouragement of many friends and family. I also had to have a lot of self-determination as well, but that was only had by seeing the impact my weight loss was having on others as well as having my wife by my side through the entire process also working at a healthier lifestyle.
Going hand-in-hand with the area of health was the running that I did this year. Even when I was in track and field in Junior High I was only a short distance runner, doing at most a 400 meter dash, which I hated then. This year I completed my first 5K, 10K, half marathon, and a full marathon. I’ve done a couple of 5K races since the marathon as well, but the result of all my running this year is the realization that I actually love running. I’ve been faced with some injury and required recovery time, since finishing my first marathon. I’ve been determined to get back to a regular running schedule, which has further enforced the fact that I enjoy running. I was just telling my wife that I love getting out there and having nothing else to worry about other than my feet hitting the road.
This area of my life has had some pretty significant ups and downs. For the past 10 years I have managed the online presence of my church, including the website, social media, and email marketing. I’ve had the great pleasure of working with a lot of awesome volunteers over the years. This past year I’ve had 3 pretty significant volunteers step away and then to top it all off I ended up stepping away due to some differences of direction and, in part, some unfortunate miscommunication with leadership. I had a pretty rough couple of months where I found myself with no where that I was serving. If you’ve known me over the years you’d know that rarely have I gone much time without being heavily involved with some area of my church.
I’m still not serving anywhere at my church but I have recently connected with a discipleship ministry in Mexico to help them with their website. I’m still seeking God’s leading and direction for where He wants me to be serving.
Around the same time that my transition out of ministry role my mother ended up in the hospital after a seizure and the discovery of a brain tumor, which they immediately removed. This was a pretty scary time for me. I’m thankful for the flexibility I have with my job at Sprint in the fact that I can work from anywhere. That allowed me to make the trip to Minnesota to be there for my parents without taking vacation time. This was the first time I had been away from my wife and kids for any extended period of time. It was hard for both me and my family, but we got through it. I came to appreciate my wife and kids just that much more.
I also ended up being a single parent for about 10 days while my wife made a trip to Sierra Leone Africa with a missions team for Hope Water International. You definitely come to appreciate all that your spouse does when they aren’t there. I’m pretty sure my kids were ready to have Mom back and not be stuck with just Dad every day.
We had the chance to make a trip to the Wisconsin Dells this summer to spend a weekend camping with one of my best friends and his family. We are looking forward to making this a new yearly event. Our families really enjoy hanging out together, it’s really a bummer that we live over 800 miles apart otherwise I’m sure we’d be getting together more often.
WordPress & Being a Developer
This year saw the return of the Grand Rapids WordCamp which I had to attend. I love getting to know local members of the WordPress community, and WordCamps are and excellent opportunity for that. I was also able to finally make my first WordPress Meetup in November, which I hope to continue in the coming year.
Given I found myself with a lot more free time on my hands (see Ministry update above) I took advantage of that to begin working on a plugin idea I’ve had for years. I’m still in the early development stages, but I hope to get it released and sent for review for inclusion in the WordPress repository. I’ve also got another plugin and a theme on the docket as well. I also took part in Hacktoberfest during the month of October and focused on helping specifically with WordPress plugins (Seriously Simple Podcasting & WordPress SEO).
I’ve been very determined the past couple of months to work on my skill set as a developer. I have no intent or goal to reach any sort of expert status, but I’m always looking to try and do things better.
I’ve made a point this year to leverage my blog as not only a place for long form writing, such as this post, but to also use it as my starting point for sharing to social media. There is some content that is still easier to share straight to social, bypassing my blog, but I will continue to improve on that over time. My real desire is to maintain complete control over any of the content that is most important to me. My blog is the one place that no matter the social media or publishing platforms that crop up, or go away, I will always have accessible content within my control.
I’m not sure what 2018 will bring. I know there will be more running, blogging, WordPress, and family activities ahead and I’m sure I’ll be sharing that here. I’m looking forward to what’s next.