The Wood family limped out of the year 2019 in hopeful anticipation of a better year 2020.

2020 was…well… What. A. Year.

No one needs or wants me to recap the year for them, but I’m going to. In an effort to spare all of us a bit of inner angst, I’ll sum things up in less than 40 words. Racism and injustice. Protests and riots. Shouting and yelling. Confusion and overconfidence. Lootings and fires. Fire tornadoes and meth gators. Earthquakes and murder hornets. And, all this junk played out against a backdrop of a soul-sucking global pandemic.

That, in a nutshell, was 2020. When the great quarantine began, I noted that it felt like we were awkwardly stumbling through the pages of future history books. For us, that pretty much sums up the rest of 2020: stumbling through the pages of future history books. Awkwardly. Clumsily. Painfully. Angstfully. Exhaustedly. But, thankfully.

Let’s turn the page to 2021, shall we? But first, here’s a quick Wood family 2020 recap:

Isaiah health update

Thankfully, for us, 2020 was immensely better than 2019. We might be among the only humans on planet earth who can say that. Our son is alive, and we avoided the hospital. Our world still involves a lot of medications, therapies, visits with doctors, and a lot of time emotionally on edge; but, we’re indescribably grateful for it. Someday, Careese and I will tell Isaiah’s story in its entirety. It’s a story that deserves to be told. But, we’re not quite ready for that yet. For updates, feel free to follow our CaringBridge blog here:

As the pandemic raged and the world shut down, we shut down along with it. Like most of you, we observed a strict quarantine for weeks. The great quarantine dragged on…and on…and on. Weeks became months. Trips were cancelled. Plans were changed. Isaiah’s Make-a-Wish trip was postponed, and we were faced with a dilemma. I need to preface our “dilemma” with the following: we continue to pray and believe that Isaiah will continue to heal and go on to live a long, smiley, inspirational, world-changing life. But, we try to be open-handed with that belief. Nothing in the Bible promises physical healing on this earth. Everything in the Bible promises us peace, joy, and a relationship with a gracious creator despite our present circumstances—sick or healthy. Rich or poor. Living or dying. So, we continue to pray, beg, battle, and cry for full healing and long life for Isaiah on this earth. And, we are overwhelmed with gratitude that so many others have joined our fight. But, we don’t place our hope in that. We place our hope in a good God who gives us peace and continues to give us peace—no matter the circumstances.

That said, here’s a terrible question for you. Suppose you were told that your son doesn’t have very long to live. He could have days, weeks, or months, but probably not years. Further suppose that there is a global pandemic raging, and doctors have no idea whether or not said pandemic will affect him. What do you do? Do you, in hopes that he’ll survive to experience adventures later, live out potentially his last days in isolation from the people and experiences that bring him joy? Or, do you mask-up and, as carefully as possible, live as much life as you can?

In 2020, we did our best to strike a good balance between isolation and relationships…between adventure and safety. And, we did our best to protect those around us. We packed as much life as we could into our days. Masked-up, hand-gelled, socially-distanced life. But, life, none-the-less. Here are a couple highlights.

Cousin Time

Those of you who’ve followed our story know that Isaiah’s top 2 Make-a-Wish requests were to go to his Nana’s house (who resides in the same town) and to see his cousins in Nashville. That’s right. When asked the question, “If you could do anything, meet anyone, or go anywhere in the whole world, what would you do, who would you meet, or where would you go?” his answers were “Nana’s house and to see the Nashville cousins.” Love that kid. We tried to pack as much of those two things into 2020 as was pandemic-ly possible. Here are a few outtakes from the absolutely wonderful time spent with the Nashville cousins.

Disney World

As for time spent at Nana’s house….Well, as a Christmas gift, my parents took our family to Disney World. Yes, they’re the best. Those of you who know them already know that. What. A. Gift. For obvious reasons, this trip was wonderful. But, Isaiah absolutely thrived there. We all walked for miles each day. Isaiah walked for miles each day, using his wheelchair far less than he walked. I only include the photo of the wheelchair to show you the glorious gift my brother’s family gave us that transformed Isaiah’s wheelchair into a Buzz Lightyear spaceship. How cool is that? Also worth noting: Isaiah had zero seizures during our stay in Orlando (he normally averages at least 1 seizure every couple of days). It was the strongest we’ve seen him since before the hospital. The Disney trip was a blessing in so many ways. We got to watch Isaiah live. We got to watch all of our kids live. We got to watch my siblings and their kids live. We got to watch my parents live. So, thank you to my parents. What. A. Gift.

Struggle Bus: The Van. The Myth. The Legend.

For those of you who’ve asked about the book, it appears that I’ve sold a couple thousand copies of Struggle Bus. I’m told that those are pretty good numbers. In hindsight, the timing of the book’s release couldn’t have been worse. (Amazon and others had extreme restocking delays thanks to COVID.) Also, the highs and lows of Isaiah’s health often killed my desire to market/promote a “fun” book. Regardless, I’m glad I pushed to release the book despite the circumstances. I think I would have always regretted it had I relegated Struggle Bus to the “Projects” folder on my hard drive. For those of you who took the time to read my book, thank you! I hope you enjoyed learning more about our crazy family. If you haven’t yet read my book, grab a copy or 30 here: My kids’ college funds thank you.

Parting thoughts on 2020 and our prayer for you as we enter 2021

We walk away from 2020 closer as a family and more thankful than ever for family and friends. I hope you walked away the same. From Nashville to Amarillo, our family has rallied around us when we needed it most and prayed us through two, well, dumpster fire years. I don’t know where we would be without them.

Our church spent the year walking through the first part of the Old Testament. When Abraham died, he was described as “an old man and full of years” in Genesis 25:8. At the time of his death, David was described in a similar way (“full of days, riches, and honor” 1 Chronicles 29:28) despite having lived a hundred years or so less than Abraham. To me, this implies that the phrases “full of days” and “full of years” have less to do with the quantity of years and more to do with the volume of experiences, life, love, trials, joy, etc. packed into them.

As I read those verses, I realized that they described 2020 well for us: full. By the grace of God, 2020 was full of life for us, despite the obvious storms that raged in our midst and the accompanying setbacks.

For those of you reading this, that is our prayer for you as we all turn the page on this year that will forever leave a dent on history’s timeline. We pray that, for you, 2021 will be a year that is full—despite whatever chaos the year holds. Full of life. Full of hope. Full of peace. Full of joy. Full of family. Full of friends. God bless you, and thank you for joining us on our journey.