“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” Gandalf
Well, it’s hard to believe, but another year has come and gone! I was told growing up that time flies the older you get, and I’ve generally noticed each year seeming to go by slightly faster than the one before. However, this year seemed to go especially fast for me. In a recent sermon from my pastor, I was challenged to look back at 2018 and what God has done in my life. And so, with that goal, here’s a brief recap of what I decided to do with the last 365 days!
First up: Precision Planting’s 2018 Winter Conference! As I’ve mentioned before, every year in January we have a conference where we announce our newest products and upcoming concepts we’re working on. This year saw the release of two products that I’ve been actively involved in developing: the new 20|20 Display (release video below), and the mSet multi-hybrid system. After having worked on both projects for the past two years, it was extremely rewarding to finally release them into the marketplace! As an added bonus, my family came out to visit, and got to attend the conference as well.
Of course, just because the products were announced and released doesn’t mean that my work was done – far from it! I actually spent roughly the first four months of 2018 continuing to work towards a successful release for both products, and so there is not much else exciting that occurred for me during the winter.
And that brings us to Easter! Once again, my family came out to visit me, and we got to spend the Easter weekend together, including Good Friday and Easter Sunday services at the church I attend.
Halfway through April, I got a rather unique phone call that altered my plans for my life, though I would argue it was for the best! For the past 18 months or so I had been attending the Amplify impact group at Harvest, a small group for singles in their 20s-30s. There is a core leadership team made up of a couple of pastors and their wives, and also a handful of young men and women in Amplify. A number of the current leaders were getting married and moving on to other impact groups over the summer, and I was one of the candidates for joining the leadership team as their replacement. After some prayerful consideration and discussions with people I trust for perspective, I accepted, and began getting more active in Amplify. The first major activity I helped with after joining the leadership team was our Compassion Day 2018 project in early May.
In late May I returned to Ohio to visit with family, and took the opportunity to fly my drone. While Spring planting occurred fairly late everywhere this year, in Ohio it was extremely late (late-May to early-June), which is why the photos did not show many crops growing yet.
In late-May/early-June, I also took up cycling, after much pressure from coworkers. I spent a Friday morning and afternoon at Bushwhacker, a local bike shop, trying out various makes and models until I settled on a bike that I liked. I settled on a cyclocross style bike by Giant. Consequently, I spent most of June riding around the town I live in and the nearby countryside, and then decided on a whim to do a 22 mile ride with a friend on June 30th. The morning was very hot and muggy, and I was very sore afterwards (that was the longest ride I had done up to that point), but I’m glad I did it!
And that brings us to July! Of course, July means fireworks, and so this year I went with a group of friends to the larger local firework shows. It was definitely an experience, and while I absolutely enjoyed it, I very much did not enjoy the traffic afterwards. Thankfully I wasn’t the one driving!
Later in July was Vacation Bible School at the church I attend. In previous years I had meant to volunteer, but I always forgot until the week before, and then my schedule ended up filling up. This year, I blocked out the days ahead of time, and made sure that I was free! I helped out with the tech team during the opening and closing segments (which included some absolutely amazing worship), and then helped shoot extra video that was cut together for the recap video. While it was a very tiring week, it was also completely worth it, and I hope to volunteer again next year!
At end of July, I headed back to Ohio once again, this time for the annual Vollmer Family Reunion. It was great seeing extended family, catching up on what is going on in everyone’s lives, and just relaxing at the lake! This year saw a smaller attendance than in years past, but it was still a fun time! Before everyone left we took a group photo. My immediate family, first cousins, and aunt/uncle wore “Bob’s Bunch” t-shirts, in honor of our grandfather Bob, who passed away a few years ago. His two surviving brothers were seated in the second row, along with their wives.
August didn’t include too many events, though it did see me participating in two longer group bicycle rides. The first was the Triangle of Opportunity, a smaller ride that went from small town to small town in Tazewell County.
The second, longer ride (a week later) was No Baloney, a much larger group ride that once again tours all throughout Tazewell County (though not the same exact path, thankfully)! After the second ride, in the afternoon, I went on an “ice cream crawl” with a small group from Amplify. I’ll let you, dear reader, figure out what all that entailed!
To wrap up the summer, my family came out to visit me over Labor Day. It was, once again, a fun weekend spending time with family, and enjoying good food at local restaurants.
September through November saw a lot of time spent volunteering at church and spending time with friends (at movies, small parties, and larger group events). As a part of various groups, I attended my town’s annual fall festival, visited a local orchard (where I completed two corn mazes), attended a baseball game, had a going away party for a friend and a housewarming party for another, and carved some pumpkins (seen below)!
And that brings me to Thanksgiving! My family ended up celebrating Thanksgiving in South Carolina this year, due in part to the proximity to where my sister was currently externing, and also because I have extended family in that area. I drove down early in the week, and stayed with my aunt and uncle, helping to prepare food for the family while I was there. I also got to see my cousins and their families while in town, and went bowling with them on Black Friday. While it was a bit of a trip, I had a blast, and am glad that it worked out to spend time with everyone!
Around the same time, I made the final decision to leave most social media platforms, which is why they are no longer linked on my website. I had been considering the move for quite some time, partially because of privacy concerns, and partially because I was finding myself spending an excessive amount of time on social media, and I found that simply attempting to limit my time wasn’t working. And so, I pulled the plug. I kept Twitter for the time being, as it (thus far) has not been as addicting to me, but got rid of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
Finally, on to December! For me, December involved taking a lot of vacation days (I had too many unused during the year), and also a number of Christmas events! First up: the Amplify Christmas Party. We wrapped up the year with Amplify with a nice group dinner, a trivia game, and a white elephant gift exchange. It was quite a fun time with friends!
The following weekend was Harvest’s Christmas service, which I helped with as part of the tech team. Our main Christmas service includes choirs (both young and old), and this year saw around 120 people on stage, if I recall correctly. You can see more pictures on the Harvest Bible Chapel Facebook page.
A few days later was the Precision Planting R&D Christmas party. Each year we get together as an R&D team (along with significant others, if they exist), and do something to celebrate Christmas. This year we had a nice evening meal, and a fun, competitive small group event afterwards.
Now, on to Christmas! This year was my first time hosting Christmas at my house, which meant decorating more than I normally do (since I’m generally traveling back home during the holidays). It worked out best for everyone to come to visit me this year, and so a few days before Christmas my family traveled out to my house. We spent the days leading up to Christmas doing some last minute shopping, cooking tasty food (and eating at some local restaurants as well), playing games, and enjoying spending time together. Our official Christmas dinner was actually on the 24th, as my sister had to fly out on Christmas Day. Everything worked well though, and while it felt different than most Christmases past due to the logistical change, I enjoyed it.
And that wraps up my look back at 2018! As usual, I’m sure that I’ve missed a few things here and there, but I think I hit most of the highlights of my year. Also, I did not mention it at any point earlier, but I have continued with the keto diet this year, and have lost some additional weight, bringing my total weight loss to ~95 lbs (current weight is around 193). And as I stated last year, I could have never predicted where this year would take me, and I look forward to seeing where God takes me in the year to come!
Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!