After an extended break, I have decided to reenter the world of blogging. As the end of 2007 approaches, many websites are listing their top 10 stories of the year. You can find an interesting list at Christianity Today and pictures from the year at MSNBC. You can also see 50 lists at Time’s website covering a wide variety of areas.
In my own celebration this year, I thought I would give my own top 10 list. 2007 was a year of transition in the life of our family. I never knew how hard it would be to narrow the list of great things down to just 10. God has truly blessed us as a family in the past year and I am thankful for all He has done. So here is my top 10.
10. 24 Hours with Jim Henry - Not long after moving to Goodlettsville, I had the opportunity to spend some time with the former pastor of First Baptist Church, Orlando. In a 24 hour span, we were able to talk in depth about pastoring in a local church. In those few hours, I learned valuable insights and lessons that I have already begun to practice in my ministry. Another aspect of that experience that was great was getting the opportunity to meet and talk with several pastors from the state._
9. Southern Seminary PhD Program - This year was the year that my PhD studies got into full swing. I have now been through three sessions at Louisville with about the same number of seminars left to go. Over the past year, I have been able to study and interact with guys that have stretched me intellectually and spiritually. We have guys in our program from Florida, Washington, Kentucky, Texas, and Tennessee - not to mention that one of our guys spent four years in Paris with the International Mission Board. While the work is hard and the time spent away from my family is difficult, I look forward to spending time with those guys every few months._
8 . Christmas in Middle Tennessee - Part of the excitement of living in a area around a large city is the all the activity. This Christmas we were able to drive with the boys to a place with 1.2 million lights (Eli thought we made it to the North Pole) and walk through Whoville made completely out of ice near the Opryland hotel. Susan and I were also able to attend a Christmas concert with Michael W. Smith, Melinda Doolittle, and the Katinas. This Christmas was also the Christmas when Eli really got into the season. It was an absolute joy watching as he counted down the days to Christmas. It truly was the most wonderful time of year.-
7. Baby Crawling Contest - This past July, we entered our one-year old son Luke into the "Lauderdale County Tomato Festival Fastest Baby Crawling Contest." A couple of our good friends had told us that Luke would be a shoe-in to win it if we entered him. So, we loaded him up and went to the city square to test out his speed. When the starter said go, our Luke took enough immediately for his mom at the other end of the stage. When he reached her, he went back to me. In fact, he would proceed to go back and fort between his mom and I three and a half times before another baby even finished the race. We now have a trophy in his room to always remind us of his time as the champion baby crawler.-
6. The Games - This year I had the ability to attend several sporting events. What made attending three of these in particular special were the people that went with me. On December 23, my dad and I attended the Titans-Jets game thanks to friends here at Goodlettsville that had tickets they were not using. There was a time in our lives when my dad and I did stuff together all the time. That is not the case anymore. So I treasured the time I spent with him sitting in a cold stadium watching a pretty boring football game. I treasured it because it is a rare occasion now when we get to do things like that. At the same time, this year also marked the first time that Eli and I went to games together. In particular, I remember the Redbirds game. I am a baseball fan and love to watch a game live. It was exciting this year to eat ice cream with him, put a Redbirds hat on his head, and buy him the miniature bat all while watching guys that might day star for my favorite team. I look forward to many more games just like that with my boys.-
5. Gatlinburg - As our children have grown older, it seems that our lives have become more hectic with the daily tasks of life. As a result, it seems that Susan and I rarely have time to just be by ourselves. That is why I so loved our time together in Gatlinburg. The young adult Sunday School class here in Goodlettsville rented a cabin where we stayed for a night in the mountains in early November. The time we spent together there was truly some of the best moments of the year.-
4. Farewell to Ripley - Hello to Goodlettsville - One of the toughest aspects of ministry is determining God's direction and understanding when it was time to move. Almost six years to the day that I started my ministry in Ripley, God called us to a new work. Leaving Ripley was one of the most difficult decisions of my life. We had developed many great friendships there and know that God did a great work in our time at Ripley First Baptist. At the same time, we are very excited about the work that God is going to do in Goodlettsville. It has been an exciting four months in our new location. We are beginning to develop those relationships here and look forward to God doing "immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine" in this place.-
3. Destin, Florida - In the time of our transition from Ripley to Goodlettsville, we spent a week in Destin, Florida with our boys and Susan's parents. Destin is one of the most beautiful places on earth. We loved being able to spend time at the beach and around the pool. We saw Luke play with sand for the first time. We saw Eli discover snorkeling equipment in a condo's pool. We spent some great time with Susan's parents who in the last year celebrated 50 years of marriage, saw Phil change direction in ministry, and fought valiantly against Marilyn's cancer. Those days were great days of relaxation and refreshment. And I can't wait to be back there again.-
2. Brazil - One of my last acts as Pastor of Ripley First Baptist Church was taking a group to Porto Seguro, Brazil. It was a dream of mine to take a ministry team from that church to minister overseas. We were able to take 21 people under our leadership to minister to the people of the Paraguai community. It was an amazing trip as we saw people come to Christ. I loved watching the people from Ripley interact with the Brazilians. It was amazing to see them minister and work among the people. This past summer was my fourth trip to Brazil in 10 years. I never thought when I left on my first trip in 1998 that I would go back that much, but God has given me a heart for the Brazilians. This summer was an amazing time of joy for me. I know that God will call me back to that land again. And I can't wait to be there again.-
1. Moments with the Family - When trying to decide on a top moment from the year, I decided that one moment would not do. That is because the best moments for me come almost every day. They come in the countless times that I am around my family. It might be gently swaying and singing while attempting to put Luke to bed. It might be sitting with Eli and helping him put together the 300 pieces from the latest Legos. Or it might be a late night conversation with my wife after both of us have had an exhausting day. I never know what each day will bring, but I know that almost every day will bring a moment of joy with my family. And everyday in those moments, I am thankful to God for the way He has blessed me. Those moments are the highlight of my year.