Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy New Year, again????

"It's like Deja Vu all over again" to quote the infamous Yogi Berra. Seems like that I was just here a second ago, looking at a New Year and now it has already passed.

To me, it seems like Life goes in stages. From zero to twenty it seems to be an eternity that will never arrive. Then as the responsibilities of adulthood and marriage come into play it seems like a 33 1/3 speed LP (showing my age) being turned up to 78. Things quickly begin to change and this ride we call Life kicks into high gear. After that, Parenthood arrives, (hopefully in that order) and it seems that Life turns into a Tilt-a-whirl ride without a safety bar and the best you can do is hope to hold on. I'm hoping that by the time that I get to the age that my almost 14 year old Son thinks I am now, it begins to slow down a bit!

The speed of Life now requires me to sit down and look back on what I actually held on to in the past year and taking the time to do so reveals that more time has passed than I realized. 2011 brought many changes, challenges, victories, defeats, hopes and dreams. While some of them will remain private I feel like sharing others.

The year that Sam passed Debbie in height! It was about this time last year that I was telling Debbie that she had better start adjusting her vision while looking at Sam and sure enough, around mid-year he passed her rather quickly. Not only has he grown in height, he has filled out in a way that I am envious of. In fact, if I had filled out in the way he has, I would probably have had a decent Football career. Around his age I started hitting the weight room and did fairly well pertaining to the upper body but I still had these scrawny Childer's legs that I still have today. Except that today it's more like 200 pounds sitting on top of toothpicks. I'm fairly certain that in 2012 I will be experiencing the same thing Debbie just did because he is fixing to pass me up, probably by March. He has grown into a fine Young Man that I am extremely proud of. If God never blesses me again, I probably won't like it but can certainly can say that He has blessed me in abundance through the gift of my Son.

The year of Adversity! Toward the last couple of months of 2010 I was made aware that I had seriously hurt my Shoulder. At the end of January this year I had Shoulder surgery and they found the damage was quite a bit more extensive than even what the MRI had shown. In the subsequent rehab and recovery in the months that followed I realized that I had been living with pain that I had not even recognized and that I had been doing so for years. It's a scary thing to realize that what you had come to know as "normal" was actually a pain filled endurance. I learned some very tough lessons through the process. 1. I'm not the young Gun that I use to be. (frankly the hardest lesson to learn and admit) 2. Pain is given to us for a purpose. Ignoring it is not being tough, noble or admirable. It's just stupid and it becomes the Life you settle for instead of the one destined for you and the consequence is that it colors every choice and decision you make. 3. Accept help when it is there. I realize that sounds funny but I'm convinced that it is a truth that MANY people need to realize. When self-sufficiency crosses the line into blatant stubbornness you are like the Lawyer that has himself for a client.  Anyway, I'm doing pretty well now and becoming much more aware of taking care of myself.

The year of Blessing! As I am finishing my first full Calendar year of being Indian Trail's Pastor, I look back on a year that God has truly blessed. In this past year we have:
~grown in attendance and finance
~reached out to our community in a powerful way
~Had several successful celebration/revival services where not only we were blessed but we blessed the servant as well
~had a wonderful Homecoming celebration
~saw several healings and miracles take place
~helped bring Christmas to a group of Native American children
~went to a full compliment of Services and began new ministries

Also, in the field of blessing, Debbie and I celebrated 25 years of marriage. At least I believe Debbie counts that as a blessing too but regardless, I am a blessed Man. She is not your a-typical Pastors wife and for that I THANK GOD! I could not and would not be doing this without her. We are a team that people don't often realize because she operates more in the background, (by her choice) but she is AWESOME in the areas that God has gifted her and I could never ask for more.

A year of Realizations! This year has revealed several things to me that had previously gone unnoticed, either by stubbornness or ignorance. (either way it was my own)
The first is the realization that I am currently doing what I have been called or destined to do. Sounds funny I know but let me explain. When I received my calling, I always saw myself as an Evangelist/Teacher more than a Pastor. I've always felt that my time as a Pastor has been a Season of necessity. Something that I was willing to do but never felt qualified for. The totality of the events of this year has brought a change of heart for me as I have come to the realization that I have been made for this. In fact, I live for it. For me, there is no greater calling and accepting it has brought an incredible peace. I still feel unqualified and as strange as it sounds, I hope I always do. The more I depend upon God, the better I will be.
The next one involves what I learned through adversity. Learning to accept help when it is there. Probably the most misunderstood part of me is my reluctance to accept help. It often gets misinterpreted as other things but it's just been difficult for me to do. I still haven't figured out all of the reasons why but I at least came to recognize it and I'm slowly working on it. I know part of it is my foolish pride because "there's nothing I can't do on my own." lol It wasn't just coincidence that the worst blizzard we have experienced in more than 20 years happened the same day as my Shoulder surgery. A five foot drift was standing all the way across the front of our House and down our driveway and for the first time in my Life there wasn't a blasted thing I could do about it! Pastor Tom Neal and a crew of men from the West Aurora Church of God came over and literally dug us out and I could do nothing but stand and watch. I figuratively thought I was going to die but in that time I saw some truths revealed that it took a bum shoulder to finally figure out. To say that I am stubborn is like saying that Coal is black. But occasionally the 2X4 to the forehead gets through. I'm working on it. In fact, this Summer during the planning for a Church event my Children's Pastor basically asked me to make a decision that fell within her venue and to her shock my response was, "If I had to make that decision I wouldn't have a need for you." I think she understood it but if not, hopefully now. We love you, Susan!
The last realization that I will share is this. Life goes in a flow. You either get in an go with it or you sit where you are at and watch it pass you by. As my health improved into the Spring I renewed my love/hate affair with running. I can honestly say that it has been one of the most beneficial experiences of my life time. The lessons I've learned during this intensely private time have been intent and incredible. In fact, because of the experiences I am going to try my hand at writing a Book. The title, by the way, will be "Lessons learned on the Run." I won't go much more into it now but pray for me as I attempt to go with the flow.

2012 scares a lot of people because of the foolishness of Mayan Calendars and such. But I have a confidence that 2012 is going to be an incredible year for the people of God. Hang on for the ride of your Life!