Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 In Review

Well it's the last day of the year. It seems appropriate to take a few minutes and remember and reflect upon 2008. it was an election year, an olympic year, a "green" year. For me it marks the year that I pretty much fully embraced the internet and technology as a means of communicating ideas and staying connected with people. From Facebook to Twitter to blogging - and all of it happening from my iphone. I guess when I decide to do something, I jump in with both feet.

It has been a life changing year for me and my family. In fact, it's probably been the most significant year of my life so far in that regard. I know some people hate these kinds of things - looking back and all of that. But I think there's real value in it. Over and over in the Scriptures we are told to "remember" and "don't forget" the things that God has done for us. So here's my year in review.

In January we welcomed our second born into the family - Joy, also our second girl. She was so perfectly named, as she has brought us nothing but Joy this year (well, almost nothing but Joy if you ignore all the sleepless nights). Hannah and Joy have bonded so amazingly. They absolutely love each other. Going from one kid to two has been quite an adjustment for all of us.

In March I went through an assessment process for church planting. Kimi and I spent the better part of a week in Wisconsin being studied and dissected with a group of other people who were potential church planters. We left that week feeling extremely affirmed in our calling. It's the week that really started the ball rolling for what we are doing today. In March we also announced to our home church that we would be leaving in the summer. It was one of the hardest things I've had to do in ministry - that is to tell people that we had been called to something else and that we would be leaving.

In April I spent a week in Mexico building houses with our youth group and doing a kids program with a local church. It was a trip we took every year, but this would be my last. It was a great trip, with many memories. I'm proud of what we have accomplished in San Felipe over the years and I know that things will continue to flourish there.

In June, we graduated off our senior class, which included my sister-in-law Kandy. Kandy and her brother Tim had lived with us all through their high school years, so it was pretty cool to see them through this stage of their lives and be able to move them on into adulthood. We are proud of both of them and the people they are becoming.

July was my last month of ministry at First Baptist Church of Yucaipa. It's the only church I've ever called home. I closed out my time there with one final trip - our annual West Coast Missions Tour. We traveled to Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland and worked and performed in homeless shelters. It was two weeks of bus driving, serving, hanging out, working, and just having a great time with students. It was a fitting way to end things for me in Yucaipa.

Then August rolled around. On August 1st I drove out of Yucaipa with a moving truck and a van packed with stuff and headed across the country. A handful of guys from my youth group came with me and we had quite an adventure. 2500 miles later we pulled in to Durham, NC. What began as a whisper from God more than three years ago had begun to take shape. We were here in Durham, ready to plant a church from scratch in a place where we didn't know anyone.

The last few months have been quite a ride. We were pretty lonely when we first moved here and we prayed for friends. God has brought several people into our lives here that have encouraged us, loved us, and helped us in so many ways. Hannah has a bunch of great little friends, and Kimi has absolutely flourished here. She amazes me more all the time. It's like something in her soul has come alive here - she is so good at life. She teaches me so much.

In October I started getting contacted from different people who were looking for a church community to call home. In early November, we started a weekly gathering in our home for dinner and bible study. We've had as many as 23 people here at once including kids. Over the last couple of months we have been studying the Sermon on the Mount from Matt 5-7. It's been so great to talk about the Kingdom of God and what that could look like in this community. We celebrated Thanksgiving in our home with our church group and Kimi's family. It was quite an event! I cooked my first turkey ever, well, half-cooked. Haha.

December has flown by. We officially decided on the name "Story Church" and we got incorporated with the state of North Carolina. We also opened a bank account and received our first ever check made out to Story Church. While not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, these were some pretty neat milestones for us.

Christmas came and we celebrated it in our home with Kimi's family. It was a beautiful 65 degree day here in Durham - reminded me a lot of southern California.

What a year it has been. So many life changes - adding a daughter to our family, beginning a new ministry, and moving across the country all in one year! We feel so blessed to be at the place we are right now as a family. Things are really going well and we know that God has been faithful every step of the way. We've had some financially tight times this year, as have so many others, and some difficult things as well. But God is good and we have grown a lot as a family this year.

The 2008 presidential elections were all about change this year. I feel like nothing could be more fitting as a theme for our year - "change". Thanks to all of you who have helped us throughout the year with your prayers, your friendship, your encouragement, and your support.

My next post will be a look ahead at 2009 and the goals and dreams I have for myself, my family, and Story Church.


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