Robert Whiting In search of awesome

2021 year in review


We handle year ends differently. Becca is downstairs watching a show, I’m upstairs reflecting (brooding) over the past year and planning (dreaming) of the next. 2021 was an interesting year full of many accomplishments, disappointments, and challenges. Here are some of them–mostly for my own processing and future remembrance.

After reading over this, let me reiterate: this is almost entirely for my own personal year end processing, you probably won’t get much out of it.

Whenever I divide up goals, I think of them in these categories, so it only seems appropriate to categorize what happened this year into similar groups.


This year, I decided to listen through the Bible during my morning routine. I started with The Hebrew Bible and Commentary by Robert Alter and then the New Testament through my Bible app, then I listened through the whole thing again through my Bible app in another translation. It’s not the same as the deep-dives into Greek and Hebrew, but it definitely helped me keep the stories in context. Robert Alter’s commentary was interesting, but I don’t think I’d recommend it. I would definitely recommend listening through the Bible at least once a year.

I also went through the Intro to the Hebrew Bible class with Dr. Tim Mackie, and almost all of Exploring my Strange Bible.

I’ve spent a lot of time on walks.

The Intuit Christian Network that I lead at work is in its second year, and engagement is still very very small. I don’t know what to do about it, or if anything should be done about it. It has taught me the consistency of praying for people weekly with little to no visible results. After some other plans fell through, I was asked to speak for the ICN Global Christmas Event, and I was able to encourage some believers.

At the beginning of 2021, we left our church of 8 years (after several years of meeting with pastors, elders, and staff about some systemic issues that continue to be unaddressed). We started a group that meets in our home weekly pointing each other toward Jesus and his teachings.

After months of attending different churches in the valley, reading statements of faith, and meeting with pastors and leaders, we found a church where we can serve. Becca is excited to help out with kids ministry, and I’m excited to help develop a plan to disciple and point adults toward growth and maturity.


At the start of 2021, we were in the middle of training and filling out paperwork for our international adoption home study. We had only recently applied with the China program through Holt. In the course of time, we changed gears to focus on Taiwan because that would open the option of sibling adoption. We finished our home study, received a match, and accepted it. What seemed an eternity was only months later when we were approved to adopt this little girl and boy. We did fundraisers, saved, applied for grants, and gratefully received amazing gifts from friends and family until we were fully funded.

Now we’re trying to learn Chinese, we’ve sent a care package, and we’re waiting for paperwork and court dates before we can fly to pick up our two younger kids from Taiwan. In 2022, we look forward to many Skype calls, to meet them face to face, and to bring them home.

Adoption training put a bright spotlight on our parenting, so we’ve focused on building memories and changing how we do parenting. Fishing, camping, canoeing, playing at the pool, hiking, reading stories, playing video games (Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Minecraft, etc), building a fire pit, and spending time with cousins.

This year we tried to be more intentional about spending time with my parents (who live nearby) by setting up a monthly get together.

Some of the studying and training on parenting and trauma coupled with the stresses of the pandemic led to some really hard conversations with family. Those relationships are precious to us, and we don’t want old habits or wounds to cause further generational hurts. I probably screwed up some of those conversations, but I’m hoping that more healing can come out of them than damage done.


I spent most of the year as a Senior Software Engineering team lead at Intuit, and after going through a long promotion application and interview process, I was promoted to Staff Software Engineer. A few months later, a position opened for a Senior Engineering Manager in our department. I applied, hoping to get some good experience and advice for the next time a position like that opened, but instead, I got the job! So I became a manager, and I get to spend all my time learning from my team how to better serve and equip them to do amazing work.

I don’t have a section for ongoing hobbies, so I’ll put the winery here. We bottled this year, and started selling two kinds of wine: our 2020 Syrah and the Redacted mead. Sales were slow, but at the hobby level, I did’t know what to expect for a baseline.


We didn’t have many financial goals this year because the adoption funding was so all-consuming. We did hit that goal, then we bought bunk beds, and a van so we can fit 6 people in our home.

After the first 8 years of our marriage paying down student loan debt, other financial goals seem pretty short term. In America, financial specifics are pretty taboo, so I’ll keep this section short.


In addition to our weekly gathering of believers and new church circle, I had a few notable groups of social influence.

Early in the year, I met often with a group that role-played Star Wars, it was really fun. We took a break over summer, then Josh had a baby, but a few days ago, we wrapped up the campaign. It was a fun story with an excellent group of friends. Everyone should have a gaming group.

Throughout the year, I’ve drifted in and out of gaming, and every time, I find a couple of good friends in online gaming–whether it be as pirates, bank robbers, alien spawn, or norse warriors, these guys always include me, laugh with me, and put up with my mediocre game play.

A friend reached out partway through the year and asked if we could get together weekly to set goals and encourage each other toward them–and that has been extremely encouraging to me.

I’ve continued to spend time with a group of friends from work called the “Beer Drinking Peeps”. We talk about work, family, hobbies, and more over a beer or two at various local breweries. This year, we went on a camping trip with them and their families, and it was one of the most enjoyable camping trips I’ve ever been on–amazing food, laughter, nature, music, and stories.


I read a lot of books this year. Some for entertainment and some for intellectual gain. Lee Kuan Yew was an amazing leader with a completely different view on how government should be run–with a stellar track record. Project Hail Mary was an amazing book. Indestractable was ok. Trillion Dollar Coach was interesting. What You Do Is Who You Are was inspiring. Zone to Win was insightful. Three Body Problem was weird. The Bobiverse was incredible. The New One Minute Manager was overly simplistic.

Goodreads is one of the most frustrating websites to navigate.

I picked up a few skills over the year: how to install wafer lighting, how to move a massive yard playset using levers, how to cook in a wok, how to speak Chinese (a little), how to build a trailer, how to play guitar (again).


I did the normal exercise things: walking most mornings with the dog, hiking on weekends, ultimate frisbee in summer. I saw a chiropractor monthly to work on my back/neck issues, which are still not 100% resolved. I still wake up with a sore neck multiple times a month–it’s that first rib on the left side.

In August, I started doing an exercise program derived from an anime I like. In involved 100 pushups, 100 situps, and 100 squats followed by a 3.5km run multiple times a week (3-5). I did that for over 3 months, then decided to switch to something more meditative. I tried Tai Chi for a few weeks, and none of it changed my baseline blood pressure. My doctor says it’s high but not high enough to medicate, so here’s to another year of, “keeping an eye on it.”


All in all, it was a packed year with a lot of ups and down. Most of it was spent doing amazing things. Several nights were spent in tears hugging my wife or kids. Much of it was spent waiting for things outside of my control. I’ve grown this year–closer to my family and closer to Jesus.

And I think that’s how life should be lived.