Published: 2018/01/22 Reading Time: 4 minutes

A Year in Review: 2017

It seems like the normal thing to do for every blogger: write a post detailing the previous year and your accomplishments, struggles, and lessons.

I used to look at posts like this as a giant bandwagon that I couldn't get myself to jump on — call that arrogance if you want (it probably was), but this year I felt a bigger reason than usual to write about what 2017 was for me and my family, both personally and professionaly.

Truth be told, 2017 was probably one of the most difficult, and at the same time hopeful, years of my life.

A Trip to Boise

In March of 2017, my family and I took a week-long trip to Boise, Idaho. We had been feeling like we were being led in that direction for quite a while (now coming on a year, which I will explain further down).

The trip was an absolute beacon of hope for us. At the time, our financial situation was precareously close to negative income every month, and so we were looking for a dramatic change.

Boise, at the time, offered better housing, a better tech center, and better weather. Not to mention, we happend across a wonderful church in Boise's downtown district that we connected with on a deep level.

After the trip, we were certain Boise was the next stepping stone in our journey, and we were excited to get there as soon as possible. We planned on selling our house in Montana in the fall.

The Summer of a Lifetime

When we got back from Boise, our plans for the year took a deep turn for the unexpected. The best description of our summer would be wrapped up in the cliche deescription of absolute hell.

As many of you know, 2017 saw some of the worst fires in over half a century. In Montana alone, more than a million acres were burned across the state. Washington also got pummled, even near Portland. California saw massive fires later in the year, and as far as I know, still is.

One of the most intense fires of the year was right behind my house.

I still remember waking up in the middle of the night to see what looked like a giant smoke and fire blended tornado erupting on the other side of the ridge. The feeling I felt in my stomach is hard to describe:

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I prayed that the fire would not make it over the ridge, but it managed to find a canyon and burn 4 miles overnight, exploding out the front and toward H-93. I kept telling myself we wouldn't be evacuated.

About a week later, we were ordered to evacuate, as the fire had entered the Florence area (where I live).

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(Image by Black Coffee Roasting Company - We are on the other side, down the Bitterroot valley)

We were evacuated for a week, and lived in a hotel room.

Eidan is Born

One of the most hopeful and dispairing experiences of my life: welcoming a new baby boy into my family while our house is empty, and we are living out of a hotel.

That's right, 1 day after we left due to evacuation orders, Eidan Clay Koepke was born. He came out screaming, louder than any of my other children, and it hit me that his name means FIRE.


The House Falls Through

Shortly after the fire escapade (thankfully, our house didn't burn down; nor did anyone else's), we listed our house on the market. We were desparate to get out of dodge and start our new life; a clean slate.

Unfortunately, 2 weeks before we closed on our house, the buyer walked.

We were disheartened and angry. But I know, through all of this, the Lord was working something in us. Time will tell exactly what that is, but for now I believe it was two lessons: to trust Him and to persevere.

A New Job

After this, I sought after a new job. I finally landed at Zeek Interactive, and you can read all about that transition from a dedicated post.

From this new job came all sorts of possibilties. The financial stress was gone, and I was free to explore new technologies and side-projects without a fear of direction competition.

Because of that, I rebranded my LLC as Freeshifter. From that, I've begun working on a new premium theme that I'll be selling in partnership with Design by Bloom, and I'm incredibly excited to start sharing previews of that.

Lessons Learned, Goals for 2018

All in all, that was my year. It wouldn't be much of a review without listing the things I learned, and the goals I have for 2018:


  • God is faithful, despite changes in plans.
  • The most important thing in hardship is preserving and mainting your family relationships.
  • A lot of your life is in your control. Not everything, but a significant amount. Make the changes necessary, and don't wait for life to cooporate (hint: it usually doesn't).
  • Posessions are temporary.


  • Create passive income through Genesis themes.
  • Start a product business with Tanya (more details later this year).
  • Sell our house and move to Boise ASAP.
  • Build a Gatsby Starter Theme (possibly).
  • Collaborate with friends in the industry (no more strictly solo stuff).
  • Invest in my spritial faith.

That's it for 2017! I realize most of this post was personal review, but I won't apologize — sometimes personal is just what the soul needs.

Until next time, you can chat with me on Twitter.