2020 – A Year to Be Thankful

2020 has been quite a year. What started with Katie’s Homecoming, my trip to Houston to see friends, Rebecca’s law review presentation, and my surprise 50th birthday party, took a sharp turn into no social events, no in-person school events, and no family gatherings. I keep hearing how bad the year has been, and I certainly don’t want to jinx anything with two months left to go, but I realized yesterday that 2020 was a pretty darn good year.

Every year, I make photo calendars for my family. I plug in as many pictures as I can find using my own camera roll, social media, and photos sent to me by others. I highlight different people each month, based on birthdays and anniversaries. I make sure I cover all of the special events each person took part in over the course of the year.

This past weekend, I was talking to my parents about the calendars and saying there might only be one picture per month since nobody was able to do anything or go anywhere for most of the year. However, once I sat down and started pulling together pictures, I was amazed by how many great photos I found and by how much we saw and did in the past ten months.

2020 may have stopped people completely in their tracks. It may have caused many to stay inside, but that doesn’t mean it stopped us from living or from celebrating accomplishments.

Our family spent the quarantine doing our best to have fun and enjoy the special time together. From trying new recipes to tackling giant puzzles and from exploring the neighborhood to taking to the water, we made the most of our time together–something we knew would forever be altered with Rebecca’s impending marriage.

And we realized that this pandemic brought more to us than just family togetherness. Despite not being able to attend Mass for so long, it brought us closer to God through much prayer and several miracles.

Staying away from family came to an abrupt halt when my nephew was involved in a horrific accident, pinned under a tractor, and fighting for his life in the helicopter ride to the hospital. I refused to stay away from my family and headed to my parents’ house as soon as my brother called me with the news. Thankfully, our prayers, and the many prayers of our friends, family, and you–my readers–were heard. Today, Trevor has completely recovered. In fact, just a few weeks after the accident, he and his brother, Shane, spent several days at our house. Trevor is a walking, talking miracle.

Mark 11:24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

While the boys were visiting, Morgan jumped off a dock, not realizing how shallow the water was until it was too late. One surgery, two casts, and a boot later, she returned to college in August without any lasting complications. She was very, very blessed not to have suffered worse injuries.

Psalm 116:1 “I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.”

In August, Ken’s brother fell down a flight of stairs, sustaining spinal cord injuries that might have been irreversible. After surgery and just three weeks of rehab, Tommy is home, continuing therapy, and doing well.

Psalm 118:21 “I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.”

This past weekend, my father was rushed to the hospital in terrible pain. We feared the worst, but again, our prayers were answered, and we thank God that he is now home and awaiting gall bladder surgery.

Psalm 66:19 “But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.”

And there were other good times that we weren’t sure would take place when the pandemic began. Rebecca graduated from law school! We took family camping trips for the first time in years. Ken and I spent a week at our cabin in Colorado. I took part in a girls weekend in the Ozarks. Rebecca and Anthony adopted a puppy. Katie and Morgan returned to college, Katie for her senior year. Ken’s sister eloped, two friends and my nephew announced pregnancies, and my cousin welcomed a her first grandchild to the family.

Best of all, amid COVD restrictions, adaptions, and downsizing, Rebecca and Anthony got married!!

First John 5:14-15 “And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.”

We did not let 2020 stop us from being together, from celebrating milestones, or from living our lives. Looking back at all that we did in the past year, I realized our lives were lived in a much smaller world than usual, but OUR LIVES WERE LIVED.

We experienced the loss of loved ones, but we witnessed miracles. The girls missed out on dances and parties and graduation ceremonies, but we danced, we partied, and we were with Rebecca when she graduated–even if the ceremony took place on Zoom. We didn’t travel far, but we traveled a little, keeping safety in mind and being careful every step of the way. Ken’s sister got married to the love of her life, and Ken started a new job despite all the shutdowns.

No, 2020 was not the ideal year, but the calendars I make this year will be filled with smiles and happiness and the reminder that good things can happen in the most unlikely of times. We have come through the fire, been tested and refined, and know that there is more good to come.

Zechariah 13:9
Verse Concepts
“And I will bring the third part through the fire,
Refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them;”

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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture MeWhispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy,  Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019).