2020 in Review

Here are some good things that are on my mind as I reflect on 2020.

2020 has been a hard year. Here are some things on my mind as I reflect on what this year has held. I also asked folks on my Instagram to reply to these prompts. You’ll find their answers at the end of each section.

Wondering why you’re getting this email? At some point, you subscribed to my email newsletter. Maybe you found me from Christianity Today, social media, a friend of a friend… who knows? But if you don’t want to receive my emails any more, no prob. Just scroll to the bottom and click the handy “Unsubscribe” button.

Favorite Reads

Here are a few books and reads that will linger with me into the new year.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley // WWII middle-grade fiction that will comfort and hearten a weary soul.

The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall // Friendships among unlikely characters through the highs and lows of life. 

How to Keep House While Drowning by KC Davis // Possibly the best $3 and hour of time I spent this last quarter of 2020.   

Stand All the Way Up by Sophie Hudson // The subtitle says it all: “Stories of staying in it when you want to burn it all down.”

Favorite non-bookish reads included American Racism: We’ve Got So Very Far to Go by David French (The Dispatch), Why Only Amy Coney Barrett Gets to Have It All by Katelyn Beaty (NYT), and Feminism Has Failed Women by Kim Brooks (NYT)

IG Answers:

A Podcast and/or TV Show I Rarely Missed

As I was compiling this list, I realized I really didn’t add any new podcasts this year and instead relied on old stand-bys: 10 Things to Tell You, Currently Reading and The Popcast.

I will give an honorable mention The Argument from NYT. The original concept of the show is that an argument (think universal preschool, abortion, etc.) is explained from each side of the political spectrum (left, centrist and right). Upon discovering the show in the summer, I mostly kept up with current episodes and binged many old ones. I loved the respectful discussions between those representing the different political philosophies. But, in the fall, the main centrist voice moved on to a different project and the show lost some of the magic. However, really pumped Jane Coastan is joining the team in 2021 and excited to see where the podcast goes.

In terms of TV, the single show that stands out is Ted Lasso. If you haven’t watched it, watch it. It’s what your 2020 heart needs. That’s all I have to say. (FYI: lots of “fruity” language and some innuendo)

IG Answers:

  • @sarah_j_cottrell: Sweet Tea with Jasmine and Portia

  • @codonath8: Endless Thread and Stuff You Should Know

  • @abigailrzhang: Schitt’s Creek

A Surprising Aspect of 2020

My time with Phoebe. For me, motherhood (from the moment I saw two lines on that stick) has been a constant process of pressing deep into my limits (lifestyle, my personality, child’s personality and needs, A FREAKING PANDEMIC, etc.), letting go of who I thought I’d be as a mother, and practicing the discipline and art of looking for and embracing today’s joy. 

I was unsure of how the toddler years would go, especially since I (shockingly) really came to love the rhythms of infant life. There have certainly been hard, hard times of mothering and co-parenting this year (LOL!). Yet, I keep coming back to the process of pressing into the limits, looking for the day’s joy, and letting go of expectations; and the Lord has worked through that. Even with all the crap 2020 brought, it has been a sweet and surprising year of crafts and Easy Mac and hiking and Daniel Tiger and singing and watching her learn to love our messy, beautiful world.

IG Answers:

  • @kelsey.lorraine: I’m a homebody, but 2020 showed me I love being in community and I feel stir crazy during quarantine.

  • @mjdalton6: Enjoying being forced into figuring out creative, safe ways to be intentional in friendships.

  • @chelseahintz: Finding peace in being less busy

Loved Recipes

Change Your Life Shawarma. Pro-tip: If you try this and like it, make a couple of the spice mixtures at once and store in little bags. Makes the whole process significantly quicker.

Copycat Skyline. Once again, if you make this and decide it’s worth adding to your meal rotation, prep lots of spice packets ahead of time.

Dirt pudding. I made so much dirt pudding in April and May and it was a wonderful life decision. 

IG Answers:

  • @katelynngphoto: Grocery pickup Walmart pizzas 😅😂 bc then I don’t have to cook.

  • @hillarycopsey: Chrissy Tiegen’s drunken noodles

  • @kb0182: Schmaltzy chicken and instant pot butter chicken.

A New Discovery 

Soma pajamas. I wasn’t a pajama person until I became a mom and needed some way to differentiate my pants with elastic waistbands. This year, I decided to go all in in this pajama lifestyle and asked for Soma PJs for holidays, birthday, etc. I’ve not looked back.

Olive and June Mani Kit. The practice I adopted for Lent 2020 was to paint my nails once a week. Odd, but I stand by the decision. Painting my nails quiets my mind and forces me to slow down in ways that few other activities do. It makes me pay attention and is a way to care for my body in a way that brings me joy. That said, COVID struck in the middle of Lent, and to borrow the words of Andy Crouch, I gave up Lent for Lent. But in July, I found myself itching for the ritual of nail painting and used some of my fun money for an O&J mani kit. Wonderful life choice. 

Aquaphor. Yes, I knew about Aquaphor before this year, but wow, we really put it to the test this year. Small cuts, scaly hands, drool rash, diaper rash, cracked heels, you name it. It’s the Swiss army knife of ointments and I’m honestly a little shocked it doesn’t cure COVID. 

IG Answers:

  • @kelsey.lorraine: Shutterfly instant books: an easy way to put together memory books in real time.

  • @jennathebrave: I am capable of feeling strongly about something and not sharing it publicly.

  • @donnacself: Walking paths and tress in a new neighborhood

Something I’m Proud of Looking Back on the Year

I wrote a little bit about this on IG, and this point involves another person, so I won’t elaborate much, but I’m damn proud of my marriage this year.

And second… with the support of, collaboration with and guidance from co-workers, I conceptualized and launched my church’s new podcast, Readings and Prayers. Then I have been producing, editing and sometimes hosting it since the middle of September.

Women have a voice and a place in the life of the church at large, and they can do good and hard things for her growth and joy. Also, I can keep up an ongoing project… who knew?

IG Answers:

  • @katierussellslp: Nursing Vera while having COVID!

  • @katiejumper101: Organizing our disaster of a basement. And helping edit a women’s Bible study.

  • @liv.nthelife: Beginning to find food freedom with Intuitive Eating.

A Quote/Phrase You’ll Take With You

“You drown, and you drown, and you drown, until you grow some effing gills.” (heard on the Sorta Awesome podcast)

I shared this quote with Mike saying I thought it was an apt commentary for our transition into parenthood.

“We’ve grown some gills,” I said. “Yep,” he replied, then added that life now is no easier than it was last year, and in some ways it’s harder. But it feels so much different than last year.

We’ve grown some gills.

We’ve adapted to life’s changes. It takes time and it’s a process that for me has included professional help, leaning into community, and embracing my finiteness with humility.

And as I stare down having a new baby amidst a pandemic with a two-year-old, this quote oddly comforts me. I know I’ll feel like I’m drowning for part of (if not all of) 2021. I also know that, by God’s grace, I‘ll grow some gills. 

“So let us pick up the stones over which we stumble, friends, and build altars.” (Padraig O’Tuama)

And going hand in hand with the above… I know 2021 (like 2020) will involve much stumbling. And I pray that when I stumble—even though I’ll probably kick the stones a time or two, cry a lot, and swear into a void—I’ll pick up the stones and build an altar. 

IG Answers:

  • @jennathebrave: Simply begin again.

  • @donnacself: Decision fatigue.

  • @liv.nthelife: “Do your best! Your best is the best for you.” -Daniel Tiger (only 1/2 joking, haha).

Something You Want to Learn in 2021

Man oh man, this newsletter is getting long, so we’ll make this quick.

I want to learn how to budget, and more specifically, I want to use You Need a Budget.

Turning into this new decade of my life, it’s become obvious that I’m not good at the nitty-gritty of budgeting and money planning. There’s a lot of reasons why budgeting isn’t my forté and I won’t go into that now (maybe in a future newsletter?), but to borrow the old cliché, I want to feel like I’m in control of my spending instead of my spending being in control of me.

IG Answers:

  • @kayla_ann_toney: To live free of false guilt.

  • @auntiegracereynoldsjack: How to breathe deeper and not be so angry at the news - look to the kingdom

  • @emmajaynealbritton: A healthy habit habit to unwind at night in a dorm other than tv or my phone.

and the winning answer…

  • @gabriellekersey: Not sure, but I hope it’s less learning than 2020 required.

That’s it for this edition, folks!

Stay-tuned for (hopefully) more to come in 2021. To close, click below to read a little digital Christmas card from the Murrishes with a photo we had taken at a distance during our state’s stay-at home orders. Peace to you and yours in this new year!

A post shared by Abigail Murrish (@abigailmurrish)