… returning from spending Christmas with my family at my parents’ house. Cool to see my brother, sister, bro-in-law, niece, cousins, uncles and aunts. Was fun to catch up on so many things including our vacation in Aruba.
… remembering I laughed a lot … at odd times like there was this moment in the fully packed minivan that Susan and I had as we were crossing the Tappanzee Bridge with one kid sleeping, one kid crying, “Mama, home” and one kid watching Charlie Brown Christmas where we just looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and laughed.
… missing so many people. From my former senior pastor Sam who was a great listener and friend to his wife and kids who were so wonderful to my family. We miss serving with them and being their neighbors.
We miss our friends – Yo, housing and taxes are cheaper up here, groceries too. They need engineers, mechanics, financial planners, hairstylists, nutritionists, plumbers, teachers, computer nerds and whatever it is that Matt actually does. Also, it’s warmer up here – just saying.
… missing the youth leaders. We got to share some great moments together in my living room, the Fireside Room, the van, and all the places we’d go.
… missing Tuesdays mornings with Eric and Ehren at the Ridge Diner and Wednesday mornings with Doc and Tim Nye. Wished we could have found a way to make it to the wedding of Dave and Jaclyn. I was Davey’s youth pastor for a few years and he ended up becoming one of my favorite worship leaders and my fourth favorite Levesque ;). I look forward to seeing Tim hopefully this year. Hey I think I forgot a few pounds of Verona in Old Tappan, please bring them up for me ;)
… wondering if we would have made the move had it not been for friends like Jim Kuehlke and my in-laws. Among all the help we got from my family and our church family, my in-laws traveled up, helped us pack up NJ and helped us unpack in MA.
… never forgeting my U-Haul being broken down on the side of the road in CT and Jim saying, “At least it’s not raining” and the heavens opening up with rain, thunder and lightening. I remember saying, “At least it’s not raining with hundred dollar bills” but apparently God’s sense of irony doesn’t work that way.
… thinking that our youth group was such a big part of my life. I will always miss and love you guys (well, maybe not all of you. “Kidding, kidding, take a joke, c’mon …” :)
… missing the Porterhouse. This old Irish pub was where I had some of the best conversations with dear friends and absolute strangers. So grateful they were open til 2am, this place really became part of my seminary experience. Initially, the other late-night patrons thought it was odd that I showed up with a laptop, an NRSV Study Bible, and a bag of books but by the third year, they would welcome me as I walked in the door while the bartender started pouring me a Guinness. This place watched me read Karl Barth, NT Wright and speed-read Herman Ridderbos (which still took a month). I also miss our “God at the Pub” discussion nights. I’m looking all over Middlesex County for something close – so far no luck.
… grateful for old friends in this new place. One of the crazier blessings of the year took place at the end of the winter as I shared with one of my closest friends that we were praying about moving on from our church in NJ. Bassim told me that his church, Grace Chapel was looking. I mentioned that I had heard but that a mega-church in “Red Sox Nation” was not an interest for me. Either his persuasion skills have significantly improved since we were 14 or the Lord was speaking through him (and probably a little both) but that was one of three life-altering conversations that got me here. It was hard for me to imagine that we would be Trick or Treating in Billerica, Massachusetts.
… looking forward to serving alongside with my new church staff and the countless volunteers here. The other two life-altering conversations were during the interview process with the pastor that I directly report to, Doug Whallon and my new senior pastor, Bryan Wilkerson. Excited to be here.
So I end this year grateful for this new season of ministry here at Grace Chapel. We are hitting 2012 running and in the next few weeks I have a message at gc@nite (1/15 – working title, “You Give Exile a Good Name (insert Richie Sambora guitar riff here)”, participating in a couple Adult Discipleship classes, one on the Psalms and one on Don Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Places, leading the monthly prayer night (in lectio divina) and a few other things that I’m excited about.
… flipping through iPhoto and realizing I got to see some people I truly admire within the same year (Alan Hirsch, Rob Bell, NT Wright)
…. proud of my two little boys.
.. with another kid – our first daughter!
I know this sounds sappy but I truly end this year thankful to God for three incredible kids and a beautiful wife, Susan. It’s been a crazy year, glad we’re in this together honey. Excited about 2012!