When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
- Johnson Oatman, Jr.
Greetings from the Watts family! I (Lydia) have been thinking about the hymn, “Count Your Blessings” recently and how it applies to 2020. This year has had more than its share of discouragement, and we have been trying to counter that with gratitude for our many blessings.
In February, Patrick was able to travel to Ohio to celebrate his grandfather’s 100th birthday
. Pop wanted to go to his favorite Mexican restaurant and wear the birthday sombrero while the wait staff sang to him, so that’s what they did! Pop is still in his retirement community and has wonderful caregivers - people who also cared for Patrick’s grandmother before she passed away in 2019. Pop says he’s the only person he’s ever known who has lived to be 100! He has health issues that are to be expected with someone of his age, but he remains in good spirits. We are thankful.
Not long after Patrick returned from Ohio, the case numbers of COVID-19 started to rise both here in Tennessee and around the country. On March 11, when Patrick picked Adam up on the last day of school before spring break, Adam told him that the teachers had all the kids clean out their cubbies. Patrick said, “I don’t think they’re going back.”
He was right. Adam finished his sixth grade year in distance learning and has been home for all of seventh grade so far. His teachers have adapted amazingly well and have worked hard to deal with the numerous technological challenges of online learning. Adam is making good grades and likes his teachers. We are thankful.
That same week, on March 13, LifeWay did an “experiment” with all employees working remotely for a day. They had had a flexible “Work from Anywhere” policy in the past, but this was the first time no employees reported to the building. The experiment was a success, and Patrick has been working from home
ever since. Overall, it has worked out well. We’ve saved lots of money on gas, and Patrick has been available to help with school-related tech problems and fix lunch! We are thankful.
As churches cancelled services and activities, LifeWay made getting “distance-worshipping” resources to churches a top priority. Patrick was part of a team tasked with getting four curriculum lines completely online as quickly as possible. It's hard to explain what a monumental task this was, but they figured out how to make it happen. I even got to preview some of it and add my input! 2020 vastly accelerated bringing "salvation to the ends of the earth" via the internet. I believe that God has Patrick at LifeWay for such a time as this. We are thankful.
In August of this year, I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, an autoimmune disease that affects the spine. This came after a long journey to determine the cause of my back pain. Getting this type of diagnosis during a pandemic is not ideal, but we are in close proximity to excellent medical care and God continues to provide for our needs to manage the situation. We are thankful.
One of the greatest blessings of 2020 for our family was the safe arrival of our niece, Emma. Patrick’s sister Allison and her husband Dave welcomed her in April. Big sister Abby is almost five years old and loves spending time with baby Emma at home in Texas. Even when things are discouraging around us, seeing pictures of them always brings a smile. We are thankful.
Like many families this year, being at home together all the time has had its share of challenges and blessings. We realize that we are fortunate to have more time with Adam
during such a pivotal time in his development as a young man. He’s grown at least half a foot in 2020, and his voice has dropped at least an octave. We have been trying to make the most of this unexpected period in our family life. We have all that we need, and we have each other. We are thankful.
We hope that you are in good health and staying safe this holiday season as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. We are so grateful for our friends and family, and we hope that we will soon be able to see you in person again. We wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!
-Patrick, Lydia, and Adam Watts