Poetic cliché aside, it truly has been a December to remember. And given we’re now in the wake of Yuletide euphoria, I’d say it’s a fitting time to reminisce on the highlights and milestones of 2013. Truth be told, it’s hard to condense a year into a measly little page, but if the richness of life lies in memories we have forgotten, how much more richness would exist if we commit to retaining it*? Thus, in the spirit of good tiding and immense gratitude, I dedicate this blog to the many I hold dear to heart.
Now when it comes to assessing any period of time, I’m a fairly frugal judge. So for me to say 2013 was the second consecutive “best year ever” is worth noting...and celebrating for that matter. For the second straight year, I felt I wasn’t simply starting a new chapter, but an entirely new saga altogether. So one shouldn’t be surprised when I say I can hardly relate to the man I was two, even three, years ago. It simply comes with the territory of accelerated redemption. And while I could write a lengthy tome on how wonderful the freedom-belief amalgamation is, I’ll have to save it for another time.
When I reflect back on 2013, a number of notabilities stand out.
But there were other lasting impressions as well…
Leading off, I’d have to start with the incredible sense of relief Lyssah and I felt on the drive to Asheville following the wedding and three months of intense preparation. Our honeymoon was not only the grand finale to the best day of our lives, but also the first week we were able to relax since the big question popped six months earlier. No doubt, wedding planning, even with one of the best part-time wedding coordinators around, is an arduous task, especially when plopped on top of a full-time job, a full-time graduate-level academic load and youth pastoring responsibilities.**
Indeed, the calendar was active in 2013. Yet, more importantly, Lyssah and I begun to sense a change in our capacities, particularly in our abilities to handle more, whether pressure or mission.
On the job front, this manifested in my internal promotion to supervisorial accounting technician, while Lyssah landed an administrative position with the LAMPO Group shortly after. With each transition came greater responsibilities and challenges to embrace; however, both advances would prove to shape not only our paychecks, but our character as well.
Life in ministry also saw its share of fresh fruit, topped by an Acquire the Fire photo contest win, a rousing white-water rafting expedition on the Ocoee, new youth room renovations and the joy of new youth finding community and impactful discipleship. Despite many memorable moments, on a pastoral note, no other year stretched the boundaries of my faith like this one. Yet, whenever the temptation for discouragement drew near, God would repeatedly breathe hope into the cracks of shaken belief and anchor me to a vision that far transcended my interpretationof it. As a result, I’ve never been so excited to enter into a new year since I became the LEGACYouth pastor in 2011.
But with Christmas letter content, and a little sentimental hogwash, aside, I will begin this blog’s descent on a more uncharted note.
As I bask in hindsight, I understand more so how providence coincides with company. As one blessed beyond description, I know, to greater extent, how the greatness of any year can’t be realized without the gift of friendship. In the past, the countenance of a year would reveal itself through achievement and the occasional epic moment, but this year, the faces of 2013 are…well…the faces of people, faces of loved ones, co-workers, teammates, mentors, family members, etc. For each uplifting recollection starts with a relationship, and each relationship starts with the reason why we’re here.
Call it gooey geniality, call it belated gratitude, call it whatever you like…it’s believing in what really matters that cements my awe to perpetual gratitude and elevates love to a higher degree.
So I suppose in fewer words, 2013 has reminded me how God masterfully carries my world…emphatically and with precise purpose, whether it’s through a timely word by my wife, a breakout 23-point performance in a summer league basketball game or an answered prayer unfolding before my very eyes.
…the best is yet to come.
* - See Cesare Pavese
** - Note: Lyssah and I are significantly spoiled with the opportunity shepherd one of the best youth groups this side of the Mississippi.
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