“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson

That, in a nutshell, describes year 2019. We began the year navigating a super weird world of viral internet fame. Our stupid old van opened the door to a number of interesting opportunities. One such opportunity was authoring a book based on our adventures in our viral van. I wrote a rough draft, found someone crazy enough to publish it, and made plans to make it happen. 2019 was off to a weird, but great start. Then, we had a wedding. Mary got married. We laughed. We cried. We danced. Fun times. 2019 was rolling along just fine. As a family, we made a number of plans for the remainder of the year. We planned an epic road trip over the summer–up through Utah, Idaha, Wyoming, the Dakotas, and back to Amarillo. We planned a summer of weekly hangouts with our friends in the refugee community. We planned an office relocation. We planned a number of activities with our home church. We planned a couple home renovation projects. We planned a number of kids’ activities. We planned a 13th birthday getaway with one of our daughters. We had a lot of fun plans.

Then, 2019 punched us in the mouth. I’m guessing that the 13 or so of you who still follow this blog are quite familiar with our story, but here’s the link to CaringBridge in the event you are not: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/isaiahwood. Our daughter’s 13th birthday getaway was interrupted by a phone call that forever changed our lives…a phone call that prompted a tear-filled race to the airport, a less-than-Jesus-like interaction with a poor American Airlines worker, and the most anxious plane ride we’d ever had. The following three months spent on edge in the hospital pushed all of us to the brink. My book got scrapped (only to be recently resurrected). Road trip–cancelled. Summer plans with friends–cancelled. Kids’ activities–cancelled. Home church carried on without us.

Our long list of plans and goals for 2019 was replaced with a singular plan and goal: survive. By the grace of God (and I use those five words quite literally), we accomplished that goal. Barely. 

Now, it’s officially 2020. As our family nervously entered the year, we sat around our dining table and made some new goals. We asked everyone, “What are some things you want to accomplish this year?” We noticed that our six-year-old had joined in and was writing/drawing something. Pictured above is his goal for 2020. Love that kid.

Our evening of goal-setting gave me a lot of hope for the year ahead. Of course, our family is forever changed and forever healing; but, my wife and kids are absolutely remarkable. Their goals are incredible, ambitious, refreshing, and optimistic. One of the great joys of parenting is getting a front row seat to watch God work with your kids…to watch your kids stare into the face of adversity and set goals to move forward–spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

As all years do, 2020 is sure to have highs and lows. On one hand, we’ll spend the year in the precarious process of weaning seizure medications–a process that will involve a plethora of medical appointments, long days, longer nights, and a whole lot of prayer. On the other hand, we’ll continue working with Make-a-Wish and planning a trip of a lifetime.

All that said, here are a few things I’m working on this year. I make no promises as to when or whether or not this stuff will materialize for you to see.

  • We plan to keep updating CaringBridge as we have new Isaiah-related information. The site has proven to be an easy-to-update, life-giving, and peace-bringing vehicle for Careese and I. What a blessing it has been through all of this.
  • Struggle Bus: The Van. The Myth. The Legend. should be available for purchase in the very near future. I approved my hard copy proof just before Christmas. More info on the official website here: https://strugglebusbook.com/.
  • I’m working on a Bible study Podcast for fellow nerds who enjoy that sort of thing.
  • I’m working on an online course for high school students. It will be a 9-12 week course distilling a bunch of MBA-type stuff down to a high school level. In short, it will consist of a ton of things I wish I had learned in high school. Failure and how to handle it. Career and how to balance passion with choosing a profession that pays the bills. Communication and how to talk to anyone and not want to crawl into a hole and die. You know, things like that.
  • I’m planning on engaging more on this here blog, writing about whatever I feel like at the moment. Perhaps I’ll write about my thoughts on current events. Perhaps I’ll write another unnecessarily long and self-indulgent update on my plans for 2020. Who knows?
  • I’m planning to continue using Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter (@joshwoodtx on all three). What about Snapchat and TikTok, you ask? For one, I think they’re stupid in the same irrational way a proverbial crotchety old man angrily shakes his fist in the air at new technology. Also, I embarrass my kids enough as it is.
  • I’m planning to have more real-life conversations over coffee. I like social media, but in-person relationships are better.

So, those are my plans for 2020. Well, unless I get punched in the mouth.

If any of that stuff interests you, watch for updates here or on social media. If none of that stuff is even slightly interesting to you, maybe check out TikTok.

Thank you for joining me on the journey. I’m glad you’re here. I’ll leave you with a little recommended reading. Of all the books I’ve read over the last year or so, here were a few of my favorites (in addition to the books of Psalms, Job, and James, which I leaned on heavily this year):

  • The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
  • Finish by Jon Acuff
  • Letters to the Church by Francis Chan
  • Reforesting Faith by Matthew Sleeth
  • Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker

Oh, and if/when you finish any of these, feel free to hit me up for a discussion over coffee.

Here’s to 2020. God bless.