It's the beginning of a year ripe with possibilities. A blank page in a new chapter of our stories that moment-by-moment and day-by-day, we get the chance to write on. It's also the end of a year and the close of a season filled with precious memories and wonderful adventures that we've had here at home and around The Homestead.
As we step into the new year, I thought it might be fun to take a few minutes to look back through just a few highlights from this past year, to share and reflect on what God has done and is doing in our world, with a hope that it might encourage and inspire the new year and yours.
In early 2021, Indiana turned seven years old. She loves reading books and telling stories, baby dolls and real babies, the schoolhouse and the kids she gets to see every day, her big sisters, and cousins and like her Mama, she is a serious home-body. Preferring to be at home with Papa, more than any other place out there. I wrote a story about Indy turning seven on the blog here.
In the early part of the year, we also lost Joey's daddy Jack. He was a special man and has been missed greatly. But we're also excited that he is with Joey and her brother Justin in heaven and that one day, we'll see him again. You can read my blog posts about Joey's daddy's passing here and here.
On my birthday in April, we began building a big new livestock barn at the school and finished it as the summer came to a close. Perfect timing for all the animals at the school as the cold weather begins rolling in with the new year.
In May, we held our first Homesteaders of American event here at the farm. 400 people from all across the country came to learn about homesteading from some of the greatest teachers there are. Besides hosting and performing for the event, I also got to attend some of the classes and meet lots of folks who came to share in the fun. I shared a story about the weekend in a blog post here.
In June, "Gentleman," my first solo album was released and along with it, we made a number of wonderful music videos and a TV special to help capture the special moment and songs on the record. I'm really proud of the album. You can see the music videos or learn more about the new record here.
And along with the new CD's, the new year also included the release of two new children's books I wrote in partnership with Milkbarnkids. The Little Rooster and Little Huck (the water Duck) are both sweet stories and I'm so proud of how they turned out. Indy and I got to be part of a fun book signing event in Muletown with the book's illustrator Haley Hunt. You can learn more about Little Huck and the new books here.
Indiana and I spent the month of July and part of August in Montana. We have been spending part of our summers there for a few years now, and this year, I left my laptop at home and all we had was my flip phone. So we got lots of downtime together to just enjoy the beautiful Paradise Valley scenery and spend time with the many friends who made the trip out there to stay with us while we were there (this picture was taken last year because this year I didn't have anything to take photos with this year...)
In September, we started concerts in Homestead Hall back up and folks came out in droves to share those special evenings with us. We even had a special guest artist at the Christmas shows, that I'll be sharing more about in the coming weeks.
*Note, I'll only be doing 10 concerts at the farm this year, and those dates were just announced, so be sure to get tickets while you can here.
In the fall, I did some concerts on the road, which is unusual for me, as we mostly have only done concerts here at home for the last few years. We did shows in Washington state, Branson, Texas, and Virginia and each one was tied to a personal friend who asked us to come, so they were all special and great fun.
October and November found me working on writing my first monthly column for a magazine called Plain Values. My monthly piece is called Roots+Wings and the first one will come out in the January issue any day now. To subscribe or learn more about the magazine and what I'll be writing in my blog post here.
Christmas time here at The Homestead is always a special time. Not far into December, Indy wrote a letter to Santa and mailed it off to the North Pole.
All she wanted this year was some Toy Story dolls and on Christmas morning, she woke to find that Santa had brought Woody, Buzz, Jessie, BoPeep, and all their friends!
My favorite gift this year was the beautiful family photos that my older girls had arranged to have taken with our friend Michael Hayes. What a special way to capture a special moment in all of our lives.
It's a new year and with it, change is in the wind. There is so much already planned for this coming year and I'm looking forward to sharing those stories as they come to be on my blog, socials, video... and maybe even a new platform that we've been working on. But even more than the things we have in the works, I'm looking forward to seeing what God has in store. Ultimately, we may hold the pen, but it is He who writes the stories.
I hope 2021 was a great one for each of you and that 2022 brings much love, life and hope into your families and lives.
Blessings to you all.