The first Christmas Kim and I were married I gave her a “Family Christmas Book.” Inside were blank pages to record the memories of 25 Christmas celebrations. This year when I opened the book I realized that there was only one Christmas left. – this was our 25th Christmas as a family. My favorite present under the tree was another copy of the same book for the next 25 years.
Reading through the last 25 years has perhaps made me even a bit more reflective as 2008 draws to a close. There are about 9 hours remaining and I’ve spent much of today thinking back over the past year.
January began busy (a hint of the year to come). I returned to coaching basketball and the Grace Lady Gators had a nearly perfect season (just one loss that gratefully didn’t cost us the league championship).
The month ended with a trip to Ecuador to discover first-hand the work of Compassion International – which was both a humbling and inspiring experience.
February brought Grace the gift of a new Executive Pastor, David Leestma.
In March we said “thank you” and “good bye” to Bob Poteet after 20 years of service to Grace and 40 years of service to the church. "Well done good and faithful servant" has never been more appropriate!
We then said “hello” to Katie Cummings as our new pastor for adult ministries and later to Keeke Hartis to direct our pre-school ministries as well as Mayda Mendiola, David Powers and Katelyn Erickson.
In May Jennifer graduated from Houston Christian High School. It was the first significant family event since my mom died and she was definitely missed. I had the added joy of getting to give the commencement address and presenting Jennifer her diploma.
Jamie got her driver’s license and for the first time in 20 years we are no longer solely responsible for the transportation needs of our daughters (although it seems that now I manage a fleet of cars).
In July I visited long-time Grace mission partners, Barbara and Steve Johnson in Budapest. It was such a blessing to see what God is up to with their coffee house ministry and thanks to Steve, see what God is doing across Hungary and Romania.
A family vacation to the Caribbean was a summer highlight. I’ll never forget toasting Nana (who made the trip possible) on her birthday!
In August as Jennifer and Kelli headed off to college we welcomed Katelyn (a new member of the Grace staff) into our home. The size of the “nest” is definitely not downsizing.
Unfortunately budget requirements necessitated a slight downsizing of Grace staff.
In September Hurricane Ike changed Houston forever.
Kelli was elected president of her sorority. While that alone is a great honor the really cool part is how it’s a culmination of ways God has been working in her life and answering prayers.
Fears of insufficient funds in a downward economy inspired a Kingdom Assignment that on Christmas Day resulted in God being glorified on the cover of the Houston Chronicle - and more importantly in a lot of lives being blessed.
Along the way I made a renewed commitment to staying in shape (it’s a slow and painful process), began getting ready for next April’s MS 150, rebuilt following Ike and survived the ups and downs of another Clemson football season (at least we beat USC).
2008 brought challenges and blessings – so many blessings. I am grateful to pastor such an amazing church, to partner in that task with dedicated leaders and the most amazing staff who love Jesus Christ more than anything.
I am blessed beyond expressing with the gifts of Kim, Kelli, Jennifer and Jamie. Their love truly sustains me.
Most of all I am humbled and amazed by how much God loves me.
2009 begins in just a few more hours and everything tells me that it will be a year to “run with horses.” (see what Jeremiah says about that)
I can hardly wait to get started!