Don’s best of 2020 – book, meal, wine, travel experience, person, thought, concert, family member

I am grateful to God for my life, family, and friends. Here are a few memorable things about my life in A.D. 2020.

Book – Range – David Epstein 

Forbes called it, “The most important business—and parenting—book of the year.” Epstein examined the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters and scientists. He discovered that in most fields—especially those that are complex and unpredictable—generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one.


Meal – Oaxaca, Mexco

Oaxaca, Mexico is the culinary capitol of Mexico. Mary and I spent four days there, feasting at many excellent restaurants. The meals, Colonial architecture, pre-Hispanic ruins, and local artisans make this a destination I want to take my friends to.


Bottle of wine – my own wine

Three years ago I planted a small vineyard. On July 17, 2020, I harvested 123 pounds of Blanc Du Bois grapes at Brix 18, specific gravity – 1.085, PH – 3.2, TA – .75. I raised the Brix to 20 by adding 381 grams of sugar. I used .176 Premier Classique Montrachet yeast. The wine was bottled on September 18, 2020.




Travel experience -Israel

Every two years Chuck and Cynthia Swindoll lead a tour to Israel. It is an incomparable experience. I am blessed to lead worship on these trips. We went in March of this year, returning to the U.S. just 24 hours before international travel was shut down. Chuck’s next trip to Israel is March 6-17, 2022. 


Person of the year – Wayne Stiles

Wayne Stiles is a wonderful friend and colleague. He is a pastor, teacher, writer, entrepreneur, and friend to many. Five years ago he helped me start my blog site – Think With Me – and continues to come to my aid on technical issues. He has been posting spiritually refreshing devotionals online for many years. His newest project—Walking the Bible Lands—takes you on a virtual tour of the Holy Land through video and audio. You must check it out.


Most intriguing thought – How you think is more important than what you think.

I enjoy finding an interesting and challenging phrase and thinking deeply about it. I’ve been cogitating on this thought for years: How you think is more important than what you think because how you think will ultimately determine what you think. In 2021, I’m going to write a book about how to think clearly. I’ll address things we need to avoid (herd mentality, confirmation bias, brainwashing, illusory truth effect, false causality, etc.) and mental skills to develop (critical thinking, dialectic thinking, cognitive dissonance, analogical thinking, etc.). Many of my posts in 2021 will address this topic.   

Music concerts – Christmas at Stonebriar Community Church

This December, adhering to COVID safety protocols, my church split our choirs and orchestra into smaller ensembles, so we had multiple Christmas concerts this year. The musicians rose to the challenge. See the December 6, 13, and 20 concerts online.

New family member – Sunsage Huckleberry Fen

Four-month-old Fen (English Cocker Spaniel) joined the Clarkes’ family (my son-in-law and daughter) in December. He’s a bundle of energy, joy, and hope for the future.  






2020 was a difficult year for the human race. I am grateful that, so far, no one among my family and close friends has perished from the virus. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones and to those who have been adversely affected financially and in their careers. Hopefully, in 2021 the virus will be controlled and we will adjust to the new normal. God will see us through this pandemic.  


I’ll end with this…


24 Replies to “Don’s best of 2020 – book, meal, wine, travel experience, person, thought, concert, family member”

  1. How you think is more important than what you think.
    I really like this concept. Battling with stinking thinking is an ongoing battle for me. I need to continually be retraining my brain to avoid this dark path.

    1. Thanks, Stanley, for your transparency. We all struggle with controlling and filtering our thoughts. It’s an important topic to pursue. I hope 2021 will be a good year for you. Don

  2. Don,
    I truly enjoy your emails. I can happily report that I have read one of your top 5 books, The Splendid and the Vile, and would agree with your thoughts.
    I just signed up for Walking the Bible with Wayne Stiles. Thank you for the introduction.
    We cannot thank you enough for the Christmas Concerts this year. Such a blessing.
    Mike and I send our best to you and Mary in 2021.
    Karen Brodie

    1. Karen, thank you for kind and encouraging words. I’m glad to hear that you enjoy reading. It’s a delight of life. We read for the pleasure an benefit of thinking another person’s thoughts. Mary and I value our friendship with you and Mike. See you soon. Don

  3. Another great read and hearing about your success with your wine. My husband enjoys listening/watching Wayne Stiles. Look forward to hearing an update on your anticipated book.
    Happy New Year !!!

    1. Thanks, Suzanne. Wayne is one of my favorite friends. I’ll share morsels of my book throughout the year. Take care and get the vaccine soon. Don

  4. Great overview of 2020 and how to make lemonade from a lemon. I sent quite a number of folks the virtual Hallelujah Chorus U tube video and realized last night that it had a much greater meaning than just a fabulous and creative performance. It’s like the dawning of a new day of hope and inspiration after a night of terrible and destructive thunderstorms. I fully intended to write a typical Christmas letter but I realized somewhere between 2:30 and 4am that the real message is one of hope and gratefulness that springs from the relatively dark experience of the past year. Thanks for sharing your take on 2020.

    1. Thanks, David, for taking the time to respond. The video you sent was wonderful: I shared it with many friends.
      Last year was a gut-checking-year. A year to learn and reflect and prioritize. Thanks for our friendship. The four of us need to get together soon. Don

    1. I have missed you and Arturo…a lot. 2021 will be a good year for all of us. Thanks for our friendship. Don

  5. I find it interesting on how you made your wine and what all goes into it. James and I went to Fort Worth for Christmas and as we drove there I think it was in Lewisville there use to be a vineyard with a place to process the wine I noticed that the land was up for sale how sad that was for what all went into growing the grapes.

    1. Janice, thanks for your interest in my wine making. It’s been a mammoth learning experience for me. It’ a wonderful hobby. I hope you and James have a good year in 2021.

  6. Thanks for sharing with us. I’m thankful that my family has survived the virus thus far. David and I had a few bumps along the road but God was there to help us. David lost sight in his right eye which resulted in us having to move to Florida to live with our daughter. Our son had died unexpectedly so he was not near to help us. Thankfully our daughter took responsibility for us. I hated to leave First Southern but because of the virus we can watch First Southern on YouTube. WithGod there is always a way. I am interested in the next book you write. Keep me informed. Blessings to you, Margaret Johnson

    1. Thanks, Margaret, for getting in touch. I’m sorry to hear about your son’s passing; that is sad beyond words.
      I’m glad you and David have a safe place to live.
      I’ll never forget our days together at First Southern. Remember the airport terminal we built on the stage?
      Take care, and get the vaccine.

    1. Thanks, Linda, I look forward to reading what I’ll write 🙂 I’m still forming my thoughts about that important topic. Take care.

  7. Hi Don. Words are futile when it comes to expressing our gratitude for your ministry at Stonebriar and the weekly joy and encouragement we receive weekly as we view the services on Sunday afternoons on YouTube.
    Thank you for your skills, direction and Godly spirit with which you minister.

    Chuck Swindoll has been an long-time favorite speaker of mine (Jeannie) so to hear/see/listen to the music and hear God’s Word is a true blessing.

    Thank you and God bless you as you continue to serve Him in 2021.

    1. Thanks, Verne and Jeannie, for such kind and affirming words. SCC is the best church I’ve ever known. We are all blessed to be there. I hope the new year is a good one for you. Don

  8. Thanks Don for your comments. My best book for 2020 was The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible by Michael S. Heiser. Have enjoyed Stonebriar services online as my wife Susan has been battling cancer. Trusting in the Lord. Blessings, Mark

    1. Thanks, Mark, for the book recommendation. I’m so sorry to hear that Susan is struggling with cancer. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Don

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