In years past I have written this post either at or just before midnight of my birthday but this year I didn’t quite make it. I was sacked out way early so I’m actually writing this on my birthday. Another year in my life has passed by and here I am at 35. I can remember when I thought 35 was old. Especially now that I’m at that age, I certainly don’t feel that way anymore.
I don’t feel old, I feel great.
When I wrote my last retrospective, I had been living in Kentucky for about two months and I was still getting my bearings as I was still the new preacher in town. I am still relatively speaking new to town but I can say that I feel so much at home here. In my 34th year I discovered that I could come to this new place called Stanton and make a a proper go at it. I got involved in the community by working with Powell County EMS and joining the Lions Club and have gotten to know some great people. While living here I have also discovered that the people of Powell County love pizza and we have some of the best pizza around right in the Red River Gorge (I’m a fat kid, you knew I had to talk about food at some point).
My 34th year was also my first year as a student at Asbury. I remember having my doubts when I stepped onto campus for my first class (IBS-Matthew with Dr. Bauer; it’s a right of passage for ATS students). I was nervous. Scared. And yet, I was comforted in knowing that I was in a holy place where I was going to learn a lot. Not only have I gotten what has already proven to be a world-class theological education, I have made friends who I hope I know for the rest of my life. I have also experienced movements of the Holy Spirit which have been nothing short of amazing.
What was the highlight of my year? I have several high points that I could choose from but it had to be my trip to England. London is one of the places I have wanted to visit for years and I was thrilled at the opportunity to not only check this off of my bucket list but also to learn more about the roots of Methodism. Being able to put my hands on the baptismal font where John and Charles Wesley (and countless others) were baptized, to stand where they stood, to see where they learned, lived, and worshiped were experiences that I will never forget. In addition to the sites related to Methodism and the Wesleys, I was also able to see where so much history both in and out of the church had taken place. Among the highlights were being able to experience worship services at Westminster Abbey, Salisbury Cathedral, and St. Paul’s Cathedral. The lessons I learned on this trip were also some that I will never forget. By far, this once in a lifetime trip – which was also my first transatlantic flight and first time out of the country – was the highlight of my year.
The one thing I have experienced over and over again is the love, grace, and healing that God brings. Just like anyone else, I have ups and downs and God has not failed me yet. Through the Holy Spirit and so many people I have seen His love for me exactly when I needed to. I have also been blessed by seeing lives changed, transformation, spiritual rebirth. I have had the been blessed by the opportunities to minister to so many people, to baptize, to serve Holy Communion, and even to celebrate lives well lived (I don’t enjoy death but I love knowing that someone has run their course in life well).
34 was overall great. Let’s make 35 even better.