I’m writing this around 8pm on New Year’s Eve. As we prepare to bid 2020 farewell, many are wishing away the heartache and sorrow of the past year. There have been so many HARD things this past year. We have seen dear friends lose loved ones. We have had several close to us walk through some incredible hardships. And…we’ve seen the HOPE and grace of the Lord in ways that we usually are too busy to notice.
After the COVID-19 pandemic brought normal day to day things to a halt in mid-March, we have spent the rest of the year doing things differently. Our family just spent some time over dinner going through our “Strange Family Adventures” jar that we always fill up over the course of the year. There is nothing super formal about it…ticket stubs, wristbands, playbills, receipts, coasters from restaurants, and little trinkets from here and there. Our jar was really different this year, but still very full. This year we cooked more meals at home than we can remember in recent history. We played outside together for hours on end. Several home projects were accomplished or are well underway. We were blessed to still sneak in some travel to a few of our favorite closeby places (Destin, Santa Rosa, Blue Ridge, Hilton Head, Memphis).
Our town opened a few new restaurants (1885 Grill and Red Top Brewhouse) that we love and have enjoyed with special friends. Eli literally rode the tires off a bike. I walked, ran, and biked tons of miles. Clint discovered a love for woodworking. Emma has DIY’ed everything imaginable. God is faithful. This has been a year where we have been able to slow down and appreciate the grace and mercy of our Savior.
December is a fun month for lots of reasons. December 8th was Eli’s golden birthday…8 years old! His highlight? In the state of Georgia, you can bail on the booster seat at that point. Since he is the size of a small middle schooler, he’s been eager for that day since his feet can already touch the floor! Eli is totally into football right now, Alabama football in particular, and he got some great Bama stuff for his birthday. We celebrated at Henry’s and came home to his favorite Red Velvet Bundt Cake.
Emma got to be a guest on the You Cook I’ll Bake show that some of our friends host. They started it during the COVID-19 pandemic and Emma quickly became their biggest fan! They sweetly invited her to be on the show for their Christmas Breakfast Spectacular. We spent a day at my friend’s as they were filming and it was INCREDIBLE! HERE is a link to the episode. Super fun!
The kids had their Christmas piano recitals mid-way through the month. Just 8 weeks ago they had their “Spring 2020” piano recital in mid-October. We made gingerbread houses and did lots of our favorite Christmas things. Emma stayed busy with NCCS middle school basketball and Eli’s Acworth basketball league got underway with Clint helping coach this year.
Big news at NCCS…we moved into the new Upper School Building just before Christmas break. What a tangible expression of God’s faithfulness to NCCS over the past 37 years…just incredible to reflect on all that God has done since the start of the school in 1983 and to dream about the fact that the best is yet to come! I am more excited than ever about the incredible team God has assembled at NCCS. The NCCS Families are such a blessing to the Strange crew and we love being Eagles!
When we got out of school for Christmas break, we knew it would be a different kind of break. We didn’t travel to Memphis this year because of the spike in COVID-19 cases. Memphis went back to Phase 1 of the “Safer at Home” protocol. We stayed here in Georgia where things weren’t a ton better, but we were able to get out and do some things with our masks on. So grateful to be able to have some normalcy!
Emma baked a lot for us. We decided it was time to renovate our downstairs half bath. That all started because I was tired of the mirror that was in there…it had been there from before we bought the house. A few hours later we ripped out the old toilet, sink, vanity, etc. The bathroom was beige and now it’s a deep navy which looks great against the white trim and white beadboard ceiling. We added a fun new vanity, mirror, and light. Just looking for one more thing to finish it up. So glad we attacked that! And Clint is getting really good at plumbing and electrical work to go along with his Strange woodworking!
Our family enjoyed serving at the Cedarcrest Christmas Eve Eve “Comfort and Joy” service. We held it outside this year to accommodate social distancing and it was REALLY Special! So cool to see some folks we haven’t seen in person in a while. With multiple services and some folks still only tuning in online, we’ve really missed some of our precious church family. We strolled IKEA and picked out several things, that were all out of stock at the time! We cooked hibachi on our outdoor griddle.
Christmas day was lots of fun…very relaxed and enjoyable with just the four of us. There was a strong sports theme to the gifts this year. Emma and Eli got a volleyball net, soccer goal, and basketball goal. We are so grateful that our home has lots of great outdoor spaces! We watched a ton of movies and football games. Emma made crepes and I made sausage balls. We took long walks, slept late, napped, and read. Christmas week was just perfect in so many ways.
The last week of the year has been lots of fun too. It’s the one week out of the year that there is just truly not much else going on. We’ve played outside a lot, looked at Christmas lights with our hot chocolate, cleaned out and organized a LOT, and just enjoyed each other’s company.
As we look back over 2020, we can see God’s faithfulness to us at every turn. The Lord has allowed some new friendships to develop in this season and brought others to new depths. Looking ahead to 2021, we are confident that God has a plan and His ways are ALWAYS better than our ways. The best is yet to come. Happy New Year!