Some Thoughts on the New Year

Each year, I try to set goals for the new year. It’s a good practice, and when I set those goals prayerfully I have that extra assurance and motivation that those goals should and can be achieved. Without being intentional, we become subject to all the random forces around us. Our lives become a crap shoot.

But even when we are intentional, the randomness of life can overtake us to the point we feel like the ship being driven by the wind and waves while we hold on for dear life. 2021 was such a year for me.

I travelled repeatedly across the country to help my parents move out of their home of twenty years into an assisted living facility, while my father was slowing slipping out of this world into the next. When he passed away in July, and I was planning his funeral, and dealing with the grief, I was diagnosed with a health problem of my own. Then in September, while on vacation–our first in two years because of the pandemic–I developed another unrelated health problem, that led to new tests, concerns, and more doctor appointments.

We looked forward to a good holiday season and had scheduled hip replacement surgery for my 86 year old mother with the hope she would be able to walk again, but two days before she was to travel here for the surgery, the results of a cardiology test showed a heart problem which required a catheterization procedure and postponement of the hip replacement.

About the same time we were learning about my mother, my brother was hospitalized with COVID-19. A few days later, he was moved into the ICU, and it wasn’t clear if he would survive. Fortunately, by the mercy of God, he turned the corner on Christmas Day, and while he is still in the hospital he appears to be on the road to recovery.

Then, my cousin died of lymphoma on December 30, 2021. He had not told anyone but immediate family about his illness, so we were shocked when we heard he had died.

All the events I just described largely defined my year, and yet, I had nothing to do with their occurrence. All, I could do was respond to them, while at the same time continuing to seek God, doing my work, discipling others, and pursuing the goals He gave me at the beginning of the year.

Continue reading “Some Thoughts on the New Year”

Great Awakening Travel Journal-Day 3

Today we visited Concord and Lexington, Massachusetts, suburbs of Boston where the American Revolutionary War began. Ann is a bit of a revolutionary, which I think also fuels her Reformation spirit and anti-popery, and The Wife has always considered rules mere suggestions. So, it shouldn’t surprise you that the visit to Concord and Lexington was orchestrated by them.

I went along, but only after finding some eyewitness testimony to the Great Awakening in Concord. This took the form of an anonymous letter written to a minister in 1742, which is part of Jonas Bowen Clarke’s Collection of Papers at the Congregational Library in Boston. I wisely kept the content of the letter to myself until lunch, after The Wife and Ann had fully exercised their revolutionary impulses and were ready to get back to our trip’s theme.

On the drive to Lexington and Concord, I couldn’t help but try to provoke Ann and The Wife by asking if they thought a disagreement over taxation (i.e. taxation without representation) was a valid reason for revolting against authority.

Continue reading “Great Awakening Travel Journal-Day 3”

What I Learned In The Desert—2

desertLast year I came out of a desert experience, which I described in a previous post.

Here are the three things I learned.

1.  “Focus on completion, not perfection.” This is what I heard in prayer one day, and it was  a major breakthrough for me.

I’m a detail-oriented perfectionist, which is great when you have plenty of time, but the more successful one becomes, the busier one will become, and I came to the point where my desire for perfection met the limits of my time. This phrase I heard in prayer resonated in me in part because I believe it was customized for me, which is the beauty of the insight one gets in prayer because it comes from the One who knows you the best. After hearing this, I began to focus on getting things done instead of getting them perfect. Some things need to be perfect; some things just need to get done, but if you are a perfectionist, reversing the default from perfection to completion is liberating. Continue reading “What I Learned In The Desert—2”

What I Learned In The Desert—1

desertIn late 2013 and into early 2014, I went through a desert of sorts, and it was one of the most trying periods of my life.

I couldn’t write; it’s hard to think of art when you are gasping for air.

I don’t want to sound too dramatic. I wasn’t facing martyrdom or starvation. These were first world problems, although they were very real to me.

These problems were a combination of health problems, personnel problems at work, a heavy workload, and things outside my control going wrong on a daily basis.  All this put me in a position of feeling completely overwhelmed, like I didn’t have enough time to do what I need to do and an inability to get anything done to minimize the burden. I felt frustrated, helpless and, over time, exhausted. Continue reading “What I Learned In The Desert—1”

What Grace Feels Like

raging riverThe last few months I have been less consistent in blogging than at any time since I started this blog 3 1/2 years ago.

There is a reason–I have been busier than ever before.

It seems all I do is work and sleep and go to church on Sunday.

It has also been one of the most stressful times in my life. I have more on the line in more ways than at any time in my life while having seemingly less time to consider, manage and attempt to control those things.

I’m a detail-oriented, preparation freak. So lately I’ve felt like I’ve been behind the wheel of a very fast car with my hands on the steering wheel, but they are not steering, just holding on. Continue reading “What Grace Feels Like”