Looking Backwards: 2016 in Review

Looking Backwards: 2016 in Review

It’s that time of the year, reviewing what has been done, assessing what was good, discarding what was not, and moving forward in a better situation than I was before.

After my theme and goal setting at the end of 2015, I moved into the new year with hope and optimism. This year was very interesting to say the least. I’ve experienced the lowest lows and the highest highs.

However, I think 2016 will go down as the most significant year for me since marriage.

Read on to find out why…

Instant Failure

This year did not start off well.

A bright spot was that I had developed my first WordPress theme from scratch at the beginning of the year using the _s starter theme. It went pretty well, was very intuitive, and I built it starting with Sass, and used masonry.js and backstretch.js as well, my first venture into JavaScript for the new year. I was pretty pumped, learned a lot, and felt ready to throw my hat into the ring and apply for work with a company. But first…

After losing almost 30 pounds at the end of the year, my back went out the second or third week of January. Actually, it did not completely go out like it has in the past, so I wasn’t doubled over in pain while walking. I was frustrated, especially after losing all that weight, I felt great, was playing basketball twice a week, and by all accounts was very healthy.

But, I kept going. In an attempt to “go pro“, I had applied to several jobs, and was accepted to one on a trial basis. I was elated, and the company seemed great. They gave me the task of developing a theme from scratch for one of their clients, and gave me about a week to do it. Due to my inexperience and not understanding the scope completely, I did not pass the trial period. While I got some good feedback, I felt like an idiot.

Get Educated and a Little Connected

After applying to another company and getting turned down due to my coding ability, I asked for some feedback and a code review. I wanted to grow as much as I could and show this company that I was able quick learn and adapt. The suggestion was to work on my JavaScript skills if I wanted to be a better front-end developer. I asked for recommendations, and they recommended Udacity.

Udacity: I gave it about a week, and enrolled in the Front End Nano Degree program. It was actually really great! I learned a ton about JavaScript, building single page applications, and even using Jasmine to run tests. I got a lot of great feedback and was able to finish the program in about four months. The major takeaway from this program was working with APIs and reading documentation. I finished the nanodegree in June, just in time for summer vacation! 😎

Udacity wasn’t my only stop for education this year.

KnowTheCode: I had reached out to Tonya the year before, and had joined up with the WPDC as an apprentice. However, when she launched KTC, my learning in WordPress, and especially Genesis, skyrocketed. I finally understood filters and action hooks, Genesis markup, and started digging a lot more into the PHP manual to get answers and move toward custom code, functions, and plugins.

JSforWP: Towards the end of the year, I decided to enroll in Zach’s course for using JavaScript with WordPress. So far, the course has been mostly review, which is nice. I know more will be added to the course in the future, and I’m especially looking forward to the framework and WP REST API discussion.

All of this learning really takes me to the end of October. While I’m still freelancing, I’m really not taking on too many clients, instead working a lot to develop my skills personally, and begin to see how I can read documentation and tutorial to impelment some plugins and themes.

During this time, I also began to experiment with Angular on Genesis, and wrote a three part series which got picked up by Genesis Weekly.

With all this fun and learning, it was time to dive back into going pro

Went Pro

Over the course of the previous months, I had submitted my first theme to the WordPress.org theme repo, as well as a few plugins. By the end of October, I had the theme approved, and three plugins in the repo. Theme and Plugins in the repo. I also had the chance to translate some of a plugin into Spanish. It felt incredibly good to be able to give back to the community that has been so helpful in my formation and learning.


Around the middle of October, after no luck applying to companies, I decided to apply to two freelancing “guilds”, and see if I could get accepted. Low an behold, I passed all the tests and joined up with toptal in October, and Codeable at the beginning of December. Both of these companies are great for finding top-tier developers, and I feel very fortunate and blessed to be a part of them. They are a great community of freelancers.

There will be plenty to keep me busy this year. Looking back, even though the year got off to a rough start, I can say that I finally went pro.

Wrote More

I wrote more on this blog than I have any year previously. I averaged two to 3 posts a month about different topics like web development, cooking and growing professionally.

While I would like to be more consistent in the new year, my attention is turning to a new project as well: Digital Tentmaking. This website only has one post so far, but I’m planning on spending some serious time developing this concept for making a living and doing Kingdom work in 2017. I have already begun to put together 50+ topics and a quick start guide for this. I’m sure I’ll be sharing links in the coming year.

Was More Generous

My wife and I were able to host a few get togethers this year, something we hadn’t done in several years for a number of reasons. It was fantastic, as we love cooking for people and having them over. I was also able to give some time to helping disciple some young guys at the international school, which has been really great as well.

We were not as financially generous as we have been in the past as far as tithing, but this will change in time as well. The change has been good, a re-awakening of our hearts and call to serve people. I’m excited to see where the next year takes us.

A New Year and New Life

Life is going to be different in 2017. I will be a professional developer and engineer, I will write more and be more generous. There is more I would like to do as well, especially in the area of fitness, but more on that in the 2017 post.

For now, I’m happy to be spending the final days of the year with my wonderful wife as we wait for the imminent birth of our daughter.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and joy for what comes next.



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