2020. What a year. Never has a phrase been more of an understatement. So much happened during the past 12 months that as I sat here this morning typing these words, I had a hard time remembering it all. So I went back and looked at pictures from the year. Images that marked moments that I wanted to remember, and some that I wanted to forget. But that's what 2020 was. A year to remember...and a year to forget.

The year began with something new for us. Our daughter Carly was playing in a volleyball travel league for the first time. We followed her team, The Marion Magic, to several tournaments in Eastern Iowa, including my former school district, Anamosa. It was there, sitting in the stands that we all learned that Kobe Bryant and his daughter had died. Our other daughter Cayleigh, played travel softball for the first time. But her season got cut short by COVID.

It wasn't much longer until the pandemic became fully realized in the U.S. Schools shut down. Businesses closed their doors. Many would never re-open. Little did we know that our way of life in 2020 was forever changed. But milestones like birthdays still happened. Cayleigh celebrated number 10 during the pandemic. Later in the year, Chase and Carly would celebrate their birthdays in the aftermath of a derecho. Even when life sucks, it keeps moving forward.

Family time became a big rule in 2020. The people you lived with were the only ones you could hang out with! So we tried to do as many things together as possible. We even went to a drive in movie this summer. Socially distanced fun. But despite that distancing, COVID-19 invaded our home. I contracted the virus in July, and gave it to both girls. Holly got it later in the year. Chase is the only person in our home to not test positive for coronavirus. We feel fortunate that we were all able to fully recover.

Then, just as we were getting used to the pandemic, and social distancing, and masks, we were dealt the cruelest blow of all. The August derecho. It changed our lives and the lives of thousands of others forever. Damage like we've never seen in person. But again, it brought out the best. Neighbors helping neighbors. Lending a hand, or chainsaw, or whatever was needed. We'll get through it. We're Iowans.

As I sit and look at some of these images from my life in 2020, I can't help but notice something. Smiles. Yes, it was a tough year. But life goes on. It has to. I hope that you and your family were able to find a few slivers of hope and light during this tough year. I pray we all are more fortunate in the 2021.

A New Year. New Hope.

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