Every year, I look back to evaluate the past twelve months. How can one even begin to approach the year where the world exploded into literal flames, riots, and a pandemic that isn’t easing up at all?
Despite that, the good ship HMS Gatlin plowed through it all.
January brought the most emotionally traumatic event I’ve faced as a supervisor when one of my crew died. Not at work, but at home, after we sent him home to go to the doctor.
I was invested in him, and the kicker is, we don’t know what caused it.
Australia was on fire.
February brought a babymoon and a well-deserved rest. The plant had been running 24/7 since we all returned from Christmas. My spiritual life was drying up, and I was losing my temper easier.
The Love Like You Mean It cruise was the best vacation ever. We bonded with old friends and made new friends. Even family was onboard.
At this time, the coronavirus was mainly in China and Japan.
March came, and I was studying my Bible more, which helped my patience, though I relapsed occasionally.
There were three baby showers planned. One would be canceled before long, another would go to Facebook Live, and one was just family visiting.
Church went online only as COVID-19 spread. Reach Deaf Ministry adapted. John started interpreting at home while I tried to figure out the class with Sharon.
I was beginning to worry about whether my family and friends would get it and if I would be laid off. I hadn’t been laid off in 13 years. Our customers and suppliers were starting to shut down, and I wondered if we were next.
It turned out my job was essential, and I joked that it means I’m expendable, especially since there was no hazard pay involved. However, it did slow us down from two and a half months of non-stop production.
I wondered if God is forcing the world to take a sabbath rest.
In April, over half our crew was furloughed. I only had three people in my area of supervision. The hospital furloughed my wife, and I started worrying about money. A plus was it happened during her third trimester.
Then baby shower gifts began to arrive. Along with her unemployment, which made her the breadwinner for a while since it had the extra $600. I saved it, living off our regular budget.
We hadn’t even had our baby shower yet—just boxes of temptation sitting in the nursery.
By May, we had over 3,000 wipes and tons of clothes. Our son Samuel’s arrival felt imminent. We prepared, packing our hospital bags just in case.
At the church level, services resumed with restrictions, and classes were online. We were using Zoom to teach, and it was awkward.
In the news, the next big thing was supposed to be murder hornets. Instead, it was just murder. George Floyd.
The country exploded.
The social media abuse was toxic. The ones that annoyed me most were the angry white people. I didn’t want to hear from them. I wanted to hear from people of color.
The rage was so hot it got awkward to even talk to long-time African-American friends.
Like there was a tension there that didn’t exist before.
With the anger, I decided to post only positive, bridge-building posts on Facebook.
June 9th arrived, and we’re checking into the hospital. A long-time friend and mentor, Jaime, walked up. She was our interpreter (for the new readers, my wife is Deaf) for four hours.
My wife, the loving person that she is, tried to hug her but was stopped. With COVID, everyone keeps their distance. We all caught up, and then at midnight, Taylor arrived, prepared for a marathon twenty-hour stretch.
She was at most of our appointments interpreting. At this point, she was a friend of the family who couldn’t wait to see Sam.
While hospital COVID restrictions, no family or friends could visit. It was nice to see two friends who could be there in an official capacity.
I tried to sleep in the icebox of a room while Casey and Taylor talked through the night before she was induced.
When Dr. Burton broke her water, he asked for a scan done. “I felt something soft.”
I thought he had stabbed my kid in the head. It turned out that Sam was breech; his legs were where his head should be. Casey’s goal of a no epidural, natural birth wasn’t happening.
She grieved that as they prepared for an emergency cesarean.
I couldn’t go into the operating room until after the epidural was done. The problem was, she kept flinching, and the anesthesiologist kept missing. I was thankful Taylor was with her.
They got it in, and I was allowed to go in and get to watch my son being delivered. It was gross, but I’ve seen worse when I hunted. Sam was so mad to be pulled out.
He peed all over the place to show his displeasure.
He weighed 8lbs 8 oz at 21 inches long.
The few days we stayed, we were sustained by Casey’s mom sending food. With the cafeteria limited, Casey got a tray. I was on my own.
Thank God for relatives.
Our first night with Sam, I forgot how to change a diaper. I stared at the clean diaper in my hand till I figured out which was front and back.
Casey laughed at me from the bed.
The realization of the responsibility started to settle in. I resolved to take it a day at a time.
We couldn’t have visitors at the hospital, but the home was our call. I was scheduling when people could come. My mom stayed for two weeks to help out. People from church brought us food.
Sam had an embarrassment of riches as people brought him more and more. We called time out on clothes. No room for them at all, even after I got vacuum storage bags.
This month brought the best Father’s Day ever. I cried twice, holding him that day. My job instituted a Paid Parental Leave that year, and I was taking full advantage of it.
One side effect of staying home was weight gain. It ticked me off. I was not too fond of the sympathy pregnancy/dad bod/coronadiet poundage. I have never been 180 pounds.
I was going to do something about it.
What I couldn’t do anything about was having to go back to work. I left home that first day with a lump in my throat.
It wouldn’t be long, and Casey would have to return after four months off.
Online teaching was turning into a nightmare, and I felt like quitting. In a video to burned out and stressed out pastors from months before, my pastor said something that pierced my being.
I was half-listening while scrolling on my phone when “Don’t quit! We Need You!” erupted from my laptop.
In a sermon that week, the same message. Don’t quit. Before the sermon, I was talking to Gary, the Deaf Church pastor, about my struggles. He gave advice and also said, don’t leave.
I followed his advice, and one of my problems became a solution.
August brought another change in routine. My wife moved to days, and I was on swing shift, with no daycares responding to me. We needed someone to watch Sam for 2-3 hours.
His godparents and friends came to the rescue because who doesn’t want to cuddle my adorable kid.
He ended my streak that month too. For two months, he hadn’t been able to poop on me but had gotten his mom. He finally got me.
After he got his shots, we could finally dedicate him at church. I made sure to tell our church friends and family about it. Mom came. Others watched online.
I love showing him off. I’m so proud of him.
September brought back all the full-time employees we furloughed. It also brought back Deaf Church to service, though in smaller numbers. We decided to return to class the next month.
Soul Cafe, the class I attend, had already started back.
A lot of things were happening that month. Sam started rolling over, laughing and babbling. It’s incredible how much you can love a kid and how weirdly quiet it is when he’s not there.
Parenthood gives you super-senses.
That month, I stopped studying and began reading the New Testament while praying more. It’s livened up my spiritual growth, though occasionally, my patience is tried.
What patience I have is definitely from God because people were pushing me.
California and a lot of the American West were on fire.
By the end of October, I was getting Corona fatigue. Everyone was, because the cases started to crawl up. Even then, its fatality rate in my state was 1.68%.
The election for president came, and President Trump is still doing an impression of Sisyphus with his loss at the time of this writing. I’m over politics.
Our usual Christmas events at church were canceled, and I had no idea if we would make any family events. The last one was canceled because someone had COVID.
Sam still hadn’t met aunts, uncles, cousins, and even a great-grandma in Oklahoma. I was determined it was going to happen.
The hurricane season ended with 29 named storms. We ran out of the English alphabet and had to start over with the Greek one.
COVID cases were going up, and we started thinking about canceling class. Eventually, we did for the rest of the year, though it disappointed me.
I loathe this pandemic.
It didn’t stop Sam from meeting his family in the mountains of Arkansas. Naturally, he was a hit.
Our newest struggle was childcare again. We have fantastic friends and family that have been watching him for a couple of hours a day. One, however, had her baby and surgery. She needed to recover.
Daycares are full, and we are waiting, improvising, adapting, and overcoming with his godparents.
While we navigate that, Sam has been practicing his sitting. He’s getting good at it. It’s a joy to watch his curiosity and development. The kid will sit there, play with his hand, examine everything with them and his mouth. That is when he’s not squealing and babbling.
Despite all of this, or maybe in spite of it, I could see the Hand of God working through our lives this year. It was definitely the Year of Provision.
Even when my trust wavered, God met all our needs.