Ever year, I recap some serious, and not so serious, things I learned from the last trip around the sun. You’ll also find my 2016 reading list at the bottom of the post. Feel free to secretly judge behind your mobile device or laptop. Not that you needed my permission in the first place.
1. Social media challenges are out of control.
This year — the challenge was to do — literally — nothing. Just stand as still as possible. Like Mariah Carey without in-ears. Heaven, help us. #mannequinchallenge
2. Fatherhood looks different with two kids.
Before Novella was born, my wife and I had all of the (assumingly) normal questions running through our heads. Can we love her like we do Paul? What if we don’t like her? What if she is fussy? What if Paul doesn’t like her? Will we love her less? What if she is a fire-breathing monster sent to punish us for those looks we gave parents with wild kids when we were teenagers and didn’t know any better? Although she’s only two months old, she’s finding new ways to fit even more love into our already full hearts.
3. Decisions change destinies
This one hurts. When I was 17, one of my best friends was killed in a car accident. A few months later, I felt like God was trying to tell me something. I felt like He told me that the decisions we make in life have the power to change the destiny He lays out for us. I got it tattooed on my arm so I wouldn’t forget. Which, of course, meant by now, I’ve forgotten about it.
In 2016, on a grand scale and on a personal level, I’ve been reminded of this statement. I believe God has plans for all of us. Greater plans than we could ever hope or dream of on our own. But, the decisions we make can and will affect those plans. Which is why we must always be on guard.
4. Pokemon GO actually made us go, for like, two days.
It brought nerds together all around the world. And, it actually brought them outside. Something only LARPing was able to accomplish. (Don’t know what LARPing is? Let me Google that for you: http://bfy.tw/9D7A) Until they figured out how to cheat it. Way to go, nerds. (Full disclosure: I’m a level 25.)
5. My wife is made of sugar and spice and steel.
My wife is incredible. She’s sweet. She’s sassy. And this year, she has shown so much resilience and strength. We lead quite the busy life, but somehow, she manages to show our family unbridled love and commitment. She keeps me centered. She keeps life fun. And, she is better than me at Sequence.
6. Cleveland showed off quite a bit and it was AWESOME.
We hosted the RNC. We hosted the NBA Finals. We hosted a million person parade. We hosted the UFC. We hosted the World Series. And nothing burned down. So shut the front door, TBS.
Which leads me to…
7. I now have enough sports ammo to annoy my grandkids forever.
I was blessed with some amazing opportunities in 2016.
I’ll tell my grandkids how I #witnessed the Cavs end the championship drought with some close friends and 20,000 acquaintances inside the Q.
I’ll tell my grandkids how, a few months later, I saw Stipe Miocic defend the UFC Heavyweight Title in front of the hometown crowd with my brother-in-law.
And then, I’ll probably start to tear up as I tell them about October. I don’t think I’ll ever have as awesome of a month (when it comes to sports) than I did in October 2016. I’ve loved the Tribe since I could throw a baseball. This year, for the first time in my life, I was able to be in The Jake for playoff baseball. I’ve never experienced anything like it.
Going to a playoff game was a childhood dream (thanks for making it happen, Jason R). Not only did I make it to the Divisional Playoff, I made it to the American League Championship Series. And then, I won tickets to the World Freakin’ Series from a video I recorded at the Divisional Playoff (thanks again, Jason!). I couldn’t believe it. All I could do was praise God and thank Him for His favor.
Here’s the video.
Even though the Indians didn’t win the World Series, I loved every second of it. Every out. Every scoreless inning. Every play.
I’ll tell my grandkids I was there with their grandmother when the Cubs won their first World Series game in decades, which is cool as a baseball fan.
I’ll tell them I was able to publish an article celebrating the Tribe’s success for Cleveland.com. (You can read it here: Thank You, Cleveland Windians).
And then, to top it all off, I’ll tell them about how I met Mike Clevinger, one of the Indian’s relievers, the day after the World Series. I’ll tell them that I thanked him for some incredible memories and told him how watching them play was the most fun I’ve ever had watching baseball.
Yeah, I think 2016 gave me enough to talk about when it comes to sports.
8. The American dream is possible, even for reality television stars.
Here’s looking at you, Mr. President elect. I guess.
9. Self-examination is a must.
This year, I participated in a prayer retreat based on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. It was one of the most enriching experiences I’ve had in 20+ years of church life. Since then, I’ve been compelled to pursue the art of self-examination. Although I’m far from doing it regularly, every time I make it a point to do so, it proves to be quite fruitful.
“without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God.”
– John Calvin
10. I still love to write.
Every aspect of it. Writing. Editing. Ideating. Reading. Collaborating. Journaling. Other things ending with ing. It’s awesome and everyone should try it.
11. God still reigns.
And I’m glad He does.
Soli Deo Gloria & Happy New Year.
2016 Reading List
Reading list was much shorter this year. I hope to bridge the gap in 2017.
Titles are clickable links. Happy reading!
How To Write A Movie In 21 Days: Viki King (4 stars)
God Is In The Manger: Dietrich Bonhoeffer (4 stars)
Adaptation: Charlie Kaufman (4 stars)
The Pursuit of Holiness: Jerry Bridges (3 stars)
Is God Anti-Gay?: Sam Alberry (3 stars)
Tramp For The Lord: Corrie Ten Boom (4 stars)
Phantastes: George MacDonald (3 stars)
Save The Cat!: Blake Snyder (4 stars)
Walden Two: B.F. Skinner (3 stars)
The Hunger Games: Suzanne Collins (3 stars)
Frankenstein: Mary Shelley (4 stars)
Nobody Wants To Read Your &#@!: Steven Pressfield (5 stars)
The Gospel According To Dr. Seuss: James W Kemp (3 stars)
Pensees: Blaise Pascal (4 stars)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: Frank L Baum (3 stars)
Living Forward: Michael Hyatt (3 stars)
Small Groups For The Rest Of Us: Chris Surratt (3 stars)
Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction: Edward Craig (3 stars)
Existentialism: A Very Short Introduction: Thomas R Flynn (3 stars)
Metaphysics: A Very Short Introduction: Stephen Mumford (3 stars)
Beginners Guide To Building An Audience: Jeff Goins (3 stars)