Monday, December 31, 2012

Year in Review

As I was wrapping up the last few months of this year, I was reflecting on how I’ve felt closing out past years, particularly by looking at my past Year-in-review blogs.  What I disliked the most was being relieved that the particular year was finally over.  I didn’t want that to be my mindset anymore.  I want to celebrate what’s going on now, not just be waiting for rest “just up ahead.”  So I decided that 2012 was going to be a banner year, and that I would be happy about it coming to a close only because of the wonderful memories it contained.  Yes, some horrible things have happened this year, two in particular, but here is not the place for dwelling on that.

One overarching highlight to this year is that I finally got around to doing a lot of things I’d been putting off for a few years, things like household repairs.  No more waiting.  Life is now.

What have God and I have gotten done this year:

·         Survived a tonsillectomy, kicking off the best year of sleep in my adult life to date
·         Joined the singles small group that my Fresno church started
·         Unrelated to the above note, met an awesome girl with whom I had almost nothing in common, we dated for a few weeks, and then she got a job transfer to Denver.  It was a short-lived but valuable relationship in that God showed me that His spectrum of relationship compatibility is much bigger than mine.
·         10-year high school reunion
·         Took first place (among 7 guys) in our church’s 10K
·         Coached Sparks for the Awana Games this year, completed and started another year as Games Director.
·         Per my Garmin watch, ran over 400 miles this year
·         Completed five half marathons, but only two Rock ‘n’ Roll races (my goal was three to beat 2010)
·         Completed my first year at my new job
·         Survived being on the other side of the audit table.
·         Two unsuccessful attempts at half dome.  Oh well, I tried.  Next year.
·         Emceed for VBS
·         Acquired a cat in June
·         Lost a cat in October (I am not discussing this further)
·         Celebrated four years of home ownership on September 1.  Oddest fact: I’ve removed three interior doors (two closets and one bathroom).  Doors just start to get in the way when you live alone.  This has been my longest stint of no roommate, a year and three months so far.
·         Started (and ended) an ASL class taught by a friend in my church.  I enjoyed my three months in it and would have liked to continue, but I have other activities I want to pursue in 2013.
·         Attended the annual AgOne Foundation BBQ in Madera as a guest of my auditors.  I was great to become more connected with the Ag community here in the Valley.
·         Took Aislynn on my Fresno church’s Father/Daughter campout.
·         Orange and then Purple belts in karate (February and November, respectively.
·         With the help of my friend Mike (plus Phillip and Seth), did a valve replacement on my engine
·         The wedding circuit ramped up again this year: attended four after seeing them trail off in the last couple years.  Yeni & Megan, James & Amy, Jordan & Molly, and Daniel & Hanna.  Only caught one of the garters.
·         Celebrated the signing of a new and better bank deal at work and oversaw/survived the horrific implementation process.
·         Acquired a lot of new-to-me furniture this year.  Still trying to figure out how to arrange it all and what to give away.  A little more furniture matches than before, which I’m not thrilled about, but I’m accepting.
·         Did the most Christmas decorating in my house to date, but still didn’t get outside lights up.  So close!
·         Set a new record for shortest time in Orange County: 17 hours.  Really wanted to come down for the VBC Christmas service, but I had Christmas caroling in Fresno Saturday night and work Monday morning.  Beats the previous record of 22 hours in 2005 for Joy’s late notice baptism.
·         Hosted a Christmas craft day for 17 kids in my home
·         Completed my first year in my own Spades group (while continuing to regularly sub in two other groups).  My group has seven singles who got tired of waiting to get married so they could join a group.  So we just find enough single and/or married friends to fill the tables each month.  For December, we actually combined with another group I sub in for a massive Christmas Spades night at my house.  It was so much fun!
·         Published my first Christmas letter!

What’s in store ahead:

·         Taking a seminary course.  This is just a sample course through Corban University’s School of Ministry.  After this I’ll decide if I want to pursue the full degree.  If I do, it may lead me toward a career change into ministry utilizing my finances background.
·         Coaching Kindergarten Upward Basketball at my church.  This one’s a big stretch for me.  I played basketball on a home school team during my sophomore year.  I was probably the most disciplined but least talented guy on the team.  I’d do whatever the coach said, but lacked that natural rhythm on the court.  But our children’s pastor assures me that the Kindergarten team is just about teaching them a few fundamental skills and having fun with them.  I'm still skeptical.

For 2012, my goal set last year was to gain a better understanding of God’s ministry plans for me.  I feel good about my progress in this goal.  I finished another year of teaching Kindergarten and serving as Awana Games Director.  I enrolled for a seminary class.  I’ve helped several friends move or with home & yard work.  Another thing I’ve been trying to do is help single moms in our church.  It breaks my heart to see husbands/dads give up on the responsibility they “didn’t realize” they were signing up for, particularly what it does to the kids.  I had signed up with Big Brothers Big Sisters, but didn’t really feel like I could work with the structure of that program.  There are a couple single moms in my church, so I’ve been informally helping them out as time allows.  I took Aislynn on the Father/Daughter Campout with our church.  Noah got a turn to spend the night in my spare bedroom.  And just a bunch of afternoons/evenings at my house or around town doing errands with each of the kids.

I’ve been holding this post back (drafted on 12/29, now 1/3) because I haven’t been able to figure out where I want to direct my focus for 2013.

I have some smaller goals: I want to do well in the grad school class(es) as I take, however many there end up being.  I coasted through some of my undergrad work and didn’t learn as much as I could in some of those classes.  I also want to make some healthier eating choices.  I run off whatever junk I consume, but I’d like to be more disciplined in portion-size and healthy choices.

I keep pondering a question my friend Terry asked me back in April.  If you were to look back on your life ten years from now, how would you evaluate your life?  In some areas I think I’d be very proud of myself.  In other areas, I should really be doing better.  Details on that are for another blog post, but I want to be more content with my retrospective review by this time next year.  Too vague, I know, but that’s all I’ve got for right now.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Interrupted Christmas

This Christmas was yet another reminder that God is God and I am not.  I spent this Christmas sick.  Very very sick.

I came down with it on Sunday evening.  I knew it was coming.  I had pushed too hard the week prior, not getting enough sleep one too many nights.  I kept it away by sheer force of will, which usually holds it at bay a couple days and gives me time to fortify my immune system for the attack.  I figured it wouldn’t be too bad, that I’d feel a little “blech,” and be over this thing no problem.  I was wrong.

Warning: complaints of maladies for this entire run-on sentence/paragraph: worst sinus pressure ever experienced, spurts of sleep lasting no longer than 70 minutes (but usually only 15-20 minutes) at a time, ear infection resulting from inability to sleep, vomiting, loss of appetite, inability to focus or concentrate, sensitivity to light, hallucinations, bumping into walls, coughing, sneezing, headaches, chills.

God has graciously given me short-term true memory of physical pain.  I remember surgeries and illnesses and merely knowing that I was in excruciating pain, but I don’t recall the depth of the pain sensations that I felt in those instances (I think it joins how I can have people describe disgusting things while I eat and not be phased by it).  But I do remember only once or twice having any significant sinus pressure with any head cold, and that those instances were minimal compared to this.  That was the base of all of this.  My body couldn’t handle the pain from it and wouldn’t let me sleep through it.  Then every time I’d wake up I couldn’t remember if I was in my bed or on one of my couches and almost crash into something trying to re-orient myself.

So I clearly did not go to my church’s Christmas Eve service.  I didn’t go to Daniel & Hanna’s place for dinner with their families afterward.  And I didn’t go to Matt & Barbara’s on Christmas Day for dinner and games at their house.  These were the plans after making Christmas Dinner at the children’s hospital with Haig & Valerie were canceled because of Valerie recently having wrist surgery.  I couldn’t watch T.V. or read.  It was miserable.  I have never seen time tick by so slowly.

The funniest part of this whole thing is that as I was spiraling downhill on Sunday night, I watched an episode of The West Wing, the one where the president is approving pardons.  The hallucinations mentioned above were related to this.  In my stupor of not sleeping enough for coherency, I imagined that I was the president in the show and was being prodded by my senior staff into granting pardons in my ill-minded state (“Just four more, Mr. President.  We’ll leave these right here next to you.  Just sign them.”).

On Monday afternoon, I was running low on all my sick supplies.  Living alone, it only makes sense to have an arsenal of feel-better food and meds on hand so I don’t need to go out on a store run when ill.  But I still managed to run short.  So I texted Greg, one of the few friends I could on Christmas Eve, and asked if he could help me out.  Greg however is without a driver’s license currently, but I figured he could at least do the driving part of the store run if I could wait in the car.  It was rough, but I made it.

Restocked on tuna, waffles, Gatorade, 7-Up and Afrin, I crashed and endured another miserable night.  But finally at 7a on Tuesday morning I fell asleep and stayed asleep for three blissful hours.  I woke up and my sinus pressure was finally reduced, and everything else had settled into a common cold.  This I could handle.

I stayed in and continued to rest, but was now able to focus and concentrate.  I slept about six hours last night, but still woke up congested this morning, so taking a sick day today, Wednesday.

Probably the roughest Christmas yet, but oh well.  Somehow missing the expected celebrations didn’t mean as much.  I poured a lot into the preparation and had some great time with friends leading up to it.