Every year on New Year’s Eve, I take a few moments to look back on the previous year and the events that made them. It’s always good to reflect on these moments and see God’s faithfulness in the midst of them. As I considered a few of those moments in my life, here is a short list of just a few in chronological order as they happened. Perhaps you’ll have a list in which to look back and thank God for His faithfulness in your own life, even in the hard moments.
1. March 12, 2020
I went to my youngest son Baylon’s Elementary School to eat lunch with him on this day. Unknowingly, it would be the last time that we or anyone would eat lunch in a school cafeteria to this day. I am saddened over what the pandemic has done to school activities, in-person learning, and the many opportunities that being on a school campus provide for kids and children to grow in maturity and character. I’m not sure any of us knew just how much good we had in basic schooling, and the value of teachers and coaches to kid's lives.
2. March 13, 2020
A little thing called COVID hit and we spent two days discussing, praying, and talking with our church leadership, various doctors and pharmacists. We labored over the decision for whether to cancel services. We reluctantly decided to cancel. We thought we would just shut down for two weeks and it would all blow over. Little did any of us know the havoc and wreckage this virus would produce and is still producing to this day. It was an explosive IED along our path that blew apart everything we had planned. However, God’s faithfulness would not be thwarted. It never is…by anything.
3. April 12, 2020
Easter Sunday is the Superbowl of worship services for the Church. This was the first time I’d ever done a worship service on an Easter Sunday with absolutely no one sitting in the building. It was still a great day, but personally speaking, as long as I’m alive, I don’t want to ever do it again, or be anywhere other than with the Body of Christ worshiping the risen Lord on an Easter Sunday. Nothing else compares to it…no beach, no mountain range, no boat…nothing.
4. May 1, 2020
My mom bought my youngest son Baylon a plastic horseshoe set at the Dollar Store. During the quarantine, we would begin playing those plastic horseshoes nightly just before dark. We made up our own rules. We laughed, we smiled, we made it competitive, and had our own championship belts. It was one of the things that got us through the monotony of the quarantine. Best Dollar Tree purchase ever. It’s usually the simple things that are the most profound.
5. May 3, 2020
We showed up to the church building for virtual worship…again. It’s been two months with no in-person worship at this point. Someone had taken pictures of families in the church and posted them on every chair. At least now we had faces on chairs! They made posters that said, “We love ya, we ‘preciate ya, and we thank ya!” It made me realize just how important a church family is to our existence.
6. July 9, 2020
My oldest son Jadon drove away for the first time as a licensed driver. I cried. It was a reminder to me that we are entering into a new phase of life. My boys are growing up, and soon they will be on their own. Sigh.
7. August 16, 2020
We drove away from my wife’s childhood home in Roanoke, VA for the last time ever. Her dad was moving to an Independent Living Center. We have so many memories there, so many football games in that yard. We all cried as we drove away…even my boys. I don’t care what anyone says, houses are not just walls, bricks, and mortar. They all tell a story, even down to the blades of grass.
8. October 24, 2020
My youngest son Baylon and I took an adventure to a playground. As I watched him play on the playground, tears formed in my eyes. I wondered if this would be one of our last trips to the playground together. I’m painfully aware that I’m at the stage of my life with my kids where we are experiencing more “lasts” than “firsts.” They grow too fast.
9. December 13, 2020
The last night of Christmas In The City. I turned to walk backstage after it was all over. I think it was the first time since March that I exhaled. This was a moment no one was sure could happen. It did happen. God showed up and changed lives through it. We practiced distancing and protocols, did as much as we could to put safety first, and we trusted God with the rest. I’m glad we didn’t just listen to the naysayers. I wonder how many things in history would never have happened had people not had the courage to move forward under incredible pressure and criticism. When it was done, we all knew something special had happened, as hard as it was to fight and labor through it. I think when we all look back on 2020, we will perhaps say the same thing about much of this year.
10. December 25, 2020
I sat at the foot of the Christmas tree with all three of my boys on Christmas Day night at 10:00pm. Ryder said, “Dad, I wish it was 7:00am again on Christmas morning.” Jadon said, “Christmas is never really over as long as Jesus is in your heart.” We looked at the tree, listened to Christmas music…none of us wanted to leave. After the struggle of this year, God dropped this solitary moment in our laps. When happiness and joy show up at your door, always give them a comfortable place to sit. Don’t rush through that moment. You don’t know what the next one holds. Okay Carnes, breathe in, hold, repeat all through 2021.