2011 – The Year In Review

It’s apparent that I don’t actually blog anymore (at least nothing of substance), but I still can’t help but sit down at the end of a year and look back at it. It’s become a sort of tradition for me since probably 2006, I think. At any rate, I’ll get to it.

This year has been a year of some firsts, some first-in-a-long-times, and several ups and downs. In some ways, it was a year typical of the few since college, but in some ways it was a new beginning. The overwhelming story in which I found myself this year was, of course, dating a wonderful girl who moved across the Atlantic Ocean. I could try to play it cool and act like that was a small detail or just a facet of my life, but it truthfully sent ripples into every part of my life, since things aren’t as compartmentalized as we like to believe. So with that undercurrent steadily flowing around me, I embarked on some adventures and learned a bit about myself, even as I often wondered what comes next. This is what happened:

  • Another atypically-snowy January with epic driving conditions, and thankfully no accidents.
  • Saying goodbye to my girlfriend on Valentine’s Day. I would not be with her again for six months.
  • Excellent trip to visit my friends Joe and Kyle out in New Mexico in March. I’d never been to that part of the country, and it was very open and freeing just when I needed it.
  • Participating in 40 Days of Water for Lent, which included no coffee. It was rough.
  • I turned 25. That’s a quarter of a century.
  • Fun trip to visit my friend Brad in South Carolina for Memorial Day, including taking part in an open mic night. It had been too long since I embraced my love for music.
  • Giving my life to Jesus in baptism on June 5th, 2011. I woke up one day realizing that, despite my religious activities, I ultimately did what I wanted and either justified it or “repented” later. Jesus was not my Lord. But the Spirit got a hold of me that Sunday morning and wouldn’t let me go. Yes, I had been baptized before, but I truly felt I needed to make that decision as a man, fully aware of my own brokenness and the darkness of the world. I’d love to talk about it if you ever want to know more.
  • Working on my first real web development side work by de-Flashifying StoneOakBuilders.com, and building my first side project site from scratch later in the year.
  • Oh, and I worked out a lot. I didn’t do the half marathon, but I got back into lifting.
  • In early July, I took part in my first international mission trip by going to Honduras. It was a very humbling experience, and it planted the seeds for me wanting to learn Spanish in order to better connect with the people there, and even those in the U.S. for whom it is the primary language. Again, I’d love to talk about it if anyone wants to hear more.
  • Finally in August I got to go visit my lovely lady in Spain. It was an amazing eight days (dare I say the best of the year), and my first trip across the pond since 2004. It certainly gave me a better appreciation for what her day-to-day life is like there!
  • In September, I moved from the condo in Antioch back into the city with a friend of a friend. While I am very thankful for my time out at my parents’ house, the new 800-square-foot palace near I-65 and Wedgewood is ideally positioned for work and play, being just minutes from both.
  • And it seems like there haven’t been a ton of memorable events since October, save my incredible sickness the first weekend of December (a virus and pneumonia). It’s been years since I’ve been that down-and-out for that long.
  • As always, there were some great musical releases and discoveries:
    • “We Can Create Our Own World” by Deadhorse, who I had the fortune of befriending late in the year.
    • “We Do What We Want” by Emery.
    • “Leveler” by August Burns Red – probably my album of the year.
    • “Broken Voice EP” by My Epic. If you’re into thoughtful acoustic music, you will like this.
    • “Major/Minor” by Thrice.
  • And compared to last year, I read some books that really made me think:
  • And aside from that, I’m sort of “plowing the same field” that I have been for a few years as far as my profession and the church body go.

I was writing an email the other day, reflecting on my adult life, and I couldn’t help but notice that every third year seems to be incredibly formative, and even transformative. By that I mean that both 2006 and 2009 were amazing years for me in so many ways. It’s not that the years prior, in between, or after were bad, but those two years stand out as being full of vibrant memories, achievement, and growth. I felt more alive. Perhaps some of that had to do with things for which I once had a greater passion, namely music and writing. (I still often wonder whether those things are a part of my true vocation for life or only a phase.) I say all that to say, while I am not superstitious, I have a good feeling about 2012. I hope and pray that it is a year of unparalleled peace for myself, my friends and family, and the Kingdom of God. Let’s see what it holds.

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