Reflecting on 2012, Looking Ahead at 2013

It’s not only natural but important that we look back and look forward on our days and the week between Christmas and  New Year’s is perfect.  As we think back on 2012, we say it’s been quite a year throughout our world – US Presidential elections, Egypt & the Middle East, Joseph Kony, shooting sprees, countless cultural debates, scandals and dramas and we finish the year talking about the fiscal cliff. I’ll avoid all the cultural commentary – here’s a brief reflection and look ahead in my life.

Our Family
– Susan and I keep saying the time is flying. We are grateful for the constant reminders from others who say, “It moves by so fast, catch as much as you can.” We know, we know, but it still moves too fast. Here’s a brief glimpse of what we’ve caught:
Nathan never stops impressing us (turned 4 in the spring). He’s a really bright and sharp kid and he’s going to be good at everything ;) Nathan is also turning into a really sweet older sibling. While he still picks on his brother, this year really brought out that older brother protector quality out of him. Really proud of him.
This year Dylan (turned 3 in the fall) and learned to express himself. He’s also learned to count to 20, recites the alphabet with 95 percent accuracy, knows the planets in order and lately he’s been singing a lot. He’s got a sweet little kid voice and is developing a playful sense of humor – Cute kid.
Janelle turned one in the fall and she really is a beautiful baby. For most of her first year, I feared I was irrelevant to her. She would look at me and think, “You have no milk, you don’t speak my language, you don’t carry toys or paci’s in your hoodie pockets like my wonderful Momma, what good are you?” but it seems we’ve turned a corner.
Hard to believe but in the fall of 2013, Nathan will enter Kindergarten. Dylan will be more Dylan. Janelle will be talking and walking and biting and fighting and be as adorable as ever.

Susan and I will always remember 2012 as the year we bought a house. We love it. It’s a nice sized space for us with space for the kids to play outside. As if there were any doubt to being suburbanites, between the cluttered garage and the Costco card, we are all in. It’s time to hang some pictures on the walls, do some home improvements, host friends, maybe start a LIFE Community (our church’s small groups) and not only avoid some of the trappings of the consumerist mentality but do our part in bringing goodness to the ‘burbs. May God give us wisdom this 2013 and may we get more date nights.

The “Job” I’m very much enjoying my time here at Grace Chapel. I know when you read something like this, the cynical voice says, “Well what else is he supposed to say?” I know, I know but I am really loving it here. I feel that the last 12 years of ministry and the Lord’s leading has brought me/us to a great place. I’ve been a little hesitant to express that publicly because I don’t want to imply that anywhere I’ve served previously was “less great” or only served as a means of preparation – not at all. I think what I am discovering now is that between experience, education, personality, gift set, and the current context of my current church, is that a lot of things have fallen into place – it feels like a healthy convergence.

I know there’s going to be some challenging days ahead, not because I’m cynical but because we live in a fallen world and our failures add to the brokeness. It’s also part of the nature of ministry – while there are some wonderful aspects to it, it can be a very difficult vocation. But as with every year, in every church, there are going to be some amazing things that will happen and I’m grateful to be a part of it. Really excited about what’s going to be happening at GC@Nite – can’t’ wait to reflect more about that. Also really excited about things like, Reading Circles (doing The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons) leader training, preaching monthly, a promising winter/spring for Family Connections and a number of other things. May God give us focus and endurance as we ask Him to work through us this 2013.

Personal Spiritual Formation – I haven’t mentioned this on the blog before but I look back to the amount of prayer I did during the church search process in 2011 which was marked by fasting one day a week. Like just about every one who tries fasting, it doesn’t come natural to me – turns out I like to eat too. But I realize that besides a very small number of times, I didn’t fast much in 2012. While fasting isn’t a goal in and of itself, it’s more about the discipline of it which leads to a greater reliance on God. I was able to fast more from technology which was a needed thing but as I look back and look ahead, I’ll need a little more of both in 2013. May God wake me up to this in 2013.

The Tough Moments and the Beautiful Ones -The were harder parts of the year. Losing my Uncle Anwar (I mentioned this in a recent post), hearing the news of others who passed away like my friend Evan’s Mom, and many others.  May God bring comfort to our hearts in 2013.

There were incredible parts as well like visiting my new nephew, Lucas in AZ and meeting our cousin’s new baby boy – Jeremiah! Loved celebrating joint birthday parties with the Ibrahims, going to see Radiohead with Brian, grateful for opportunities to speak to fellow Middle-Easterners at Winter Oasis and Grapevine, attending Q, “Senior Sneak,” enjoyed a week at Camp of the Woods with church families, performed wedding ceremonies for some I’ve known for a while and others for only a short while.

Loved that we got to finish the year by celebrating Christmas at my parents’ house and a series of quick visits with old friends. The realization that I’ve left so much off this list points to a very blessed year. Though I’m feeling some anxiety for all the things I need to hustle on for the new year, I’m also genuinely excited for 2013 – I hope you are too.  May God give us strength and grace this 2013.

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