Well, another year is in the books. 2017 has come and gone and left us with feelings of accomplishment and regret. We all set goals for the past year that we either surpassed or missed. Resolutions are like that and they have a tendency to reveal something to us that we might not have already known. Our resolve to meet our goals can be strengthened or we can see areas where our reliance on something is still greater than our desire to change.
Here at Strange Life, I am happy to report that this year has been a success. My goal for this blog was simply to continue to put out quality content in order to drive more traffic to my site. Since I started my blog in March of 2016 and thus did not even blog for a full year, this goal was easily achievable. However, in 2017, I received 6,072 hits for the year for an average of 506 hits per month. Over the course of 10 months in 2016, This Strange Life received 3,814 hits for an average of 381.4 per month. As you can see, there was a substantial increase in my monthly traffic and that, my friends, is 100% because of you.
Thank you. This hobby of mine is becoming something much greater and I hope I am benefitting you as much as you are benefitting me.
So, to close out 2017 (a few days late), I thought I would look back at my top 10 blogs of the year. The criteria is simple. These posts are ranked by the number of times that you (collectively) clicked on them. So without further discussion, here they are….
#10: What’s the Answer
Recently, some people who I know pulled me aside to ask for advice in regards to their 14-year-old son. They said that they were really struggling to connect with him and that he had begun to rebel against them. They particularly struggled with Sunday mornings as they all attend church but he does not want to be a part of that. Now, while I firmly believe that a person must come to Christ on their own terms, I definitely feel that the family is in the right to require him to attend with them. Yet, the question becomes, “How?” If it is always a fight, what is the right answer? Or, is it worth the fight and any potential future damage to insist on such a thing?
Over the past year and a half, I have been back to Illinois around 6 or 7 times. I know that’s funny to say because I should know exactly how many times I have made that trip but I cannot be certain. However, I think it is six trips now that I have made between April 0f 2016 and now. Tomorrow evening, around 6:00, we will begin number seven.
Posted on October 30, 2017, this is a curated piece of content. What this means is that I did not originally write this article but simply included it in my library as a useful resource for the male reader.
#7: Find a Balance
It was shortly after we were married that I handed our finances over to Elisa. Hold on a second, you might say, what about being the man of the house and running your own ship? Well, I brought a bunch of negative debt into our marriage and all she had was some school loans. It was a no-brainer. Now, that doesn’t mean that I liked the idea. Nobody likes to give up control. However, it was a necessary move and one that paid off spectacularly. Elisa has kept us out of debt for over a decade now.
#6: Get Help
In the line of work that my wife and I do (we are house parents at a group home facility), we see many children that are falling through the cracks in life. In eight years as house parents, we have housed over seventy kids for reasons that vary from neglect to truancy to abuse. Not every parent that has brought their kids to us have been neglectful. Many of them are wonderful parents who have just lost control of their homes and are looking for help.
#5: Plans Change
This past weekend, I was privileged to participate in the memorial service for, my uncle, Sam Byers. It was a blessing to be back with my family as we worked our way through the grieving process of losing a beloved family member. I made the trip out with my daughter who, surprisingly enough, handled 24 hours in the car with me pretty well.
Last week, Elisa and I had a fight. I’m not going to go into the details of the dispute. Needless to say, I was the cause (as usual) and required grace on her part as I learn how to be more the person that she needs me to be. This is an annual thing. About once a year, we get into a spat over something (thankfully, it is never the same thing… progress there.) and it typically takes us about three or four days of not talking to discover that we really don’t like to fight with each other before we reconcile.
#3: Back On the Road
Tomorrow morning, I will get up and take the boys to school. I typically get home around 8:10 so that will give me a little bit of time to get some work related things done early. Around 9:00 or so, Sydney and I will load up in the truck and get on the road for that long drive back to Illinois. My uncle passed away two nights ago so we are heading home for the funeral. The family will bury Sam on Saturday so that gives us plenty of time. It is not a rushed trip. However, I don’t think that Sydney and I have ever take a long trip like this alone. Elisa and Caleb have always been with us. Sydney has made a trip to Illinois with Elisa but this is a first for the two of us.
I remember waking up on this day, eleven years ago, with an understanding that I was about to do something that would change my life, forever. At the time, I lived with a bunch of other guys in a house that probably should have been condemned and torn down. I got up that morning and went over to my friend, Danny Brown’s, house to get ready. Danny and his wife were in the process of moving to Seattle so their house was pretty much empty. It was good for my thoughts, having that empty space. I did not have the distraction of video games to take my mind away from what was about to happen. Four or five hours from that point, I would be a married man.
I woke up at 5:00 this morning and could not get back to sleep. It might have had something to do with the 5-year-old child that had made his way into my bed and the small of my back. Who knows? All I am certain of is that I was not going back to sleep. I got up, wandered around the house for a bit, and finally resolved myself to the fact that I should go ahead and get started on work. If I cannot sleep, I might as well be productive. I went on downstairs but did not take my phone with me. Because of this, I could not hear it ringing at 6:00 when my mother called. I had to get the boys up for school around seven so I went on back upstairs to get my phone and my wallet. I remember looking at my phone and getting that sinking feeling that only shows up in your heart when you know something isn’t right.
And there you have it. But, you knew all about those posts already. After all, you picked them out over the course of the last year. I hope looking back over them gave you an opportunity to reflect on something. Maybe it even helped you in setting a goal for the next year. I hope 2018 is good to you and your goals are all met. As for me, I’m hitting the ground running.
Life is Strange. Live it Well.