Reflections on 2014

As we close out 2014, with a little less than 12 hours left as I write this post, I just wanted to share some of our thoughts as a family throughout the past year.  It has been a pretty crazy year for us, everything from illnesses to job changes, to adjusting to having a toddler now! But It has been a great year too!  We rang in the new year last year in Oklahoma, at a good friends home.  Aly was about 6 weeks old, and asleep for the night, Brooke was playing Supernintendo with Jamy and I was laying on the couch near by watching TV.  Fast forward to today, a lot of things happened from then until now.  January 2014 we came back home to NYC, still getting settled into being relatively new parents, constantly rejoicing over every new little thing our daughter did.  January was also the month I was able to take my paternity leave and spend every day for a month with my little girl.  It was perhaps one of the most special months that I've ever had the pleasure of living.  I was able to really bond with my daughter in a way that I hadn't had the chance to yet.  I was able to learn what made her happy, and what didn't.  How to calm her down if she was fussy.  When to feed her and also learned how to dress her (it's quite difficult to dress a newborn, they don't really help you out).  I really enjoyed that month, it was kind of bitter sweet to get back to my every day routine of working.  But we made it work.  I guess the first big thing that happened was an opportunity for me to take on a new job teaching.  I always thought I wanted to be a teacher, turns out that wasn't the case.  I've definitely gained a whole new respect for the work teachers do and have learned that teaching isn't for me, at least not in a formal sense.  It is interesting to see how we as Christians will pray for something, and it's given to us, but perhaps it shouldn't have been given to us in the first place.  It's like God said to me, "Okay sure, here's the teaching job you really wanted, I'll give it to you, but it isn't what I have planned, but since you're insisting then so be it." Not that we can bend God's will to our own, but I do find it interesting that I was able to land a job teaching, which on the surface seemed to be great for our family, but turned out to be a pretty terrible experience for me, my wife and our family.  But who knows maybe next year we'll be able to look back and say, "oh that's why that happened."  Thankfully I was able to return to my previous job, which I loved.  Another big change was that Brooke shifted to working full time from home, which is a feat in and of itself,  She did this as a way to better serve our family, especially our daughter.  We believe it's so critical to spend intentional time with her as her parents and Brooke now gets to spend every waking moment with her.  She's even developed a whole tot school curriculum, which you can read about here. It's also been a joy to see my daughter grow, I find it fascinating that she learns things on her own without much direction.  Recently she learned how to stand up and just started walking.  It's like it just clicked for her, and now she's on the move.  We took a nice family vacation to the Bahamas and enjoyed getting away from the hustle and bustle of NYC, but it always feels great to be back.  Aly celebrated her first birthday in November, it was an Alligator themed party.  On a different note, most of the second half of the year I've been dealing with some health issues, mostly just feeling pretty sick stomach wise, which blows, I have good days, I have terrible days, and I have meh days.  I've seen a few different docs, had some tests run, but no clear answers which can be a bit depressing, but through it all, I've stayed pretty up beat for the most part, Brooke's been great in helping me when I have felt at my wits end.  I'm so grateful for having her in my life.  She is such an amazing wife, and mother to our daughter and I know she'll be a great wife until the day we die, and a great mother to Aly, and the rest of our future children (just to be clear we aren't expecting any children anytime soon). Something interesting that I've learned is that suffering in our culture is seen as an intrusion to our life, and if I'm honest that's how I've felt on most days, but that shouldn't be the case, in his book on Suffering Tim Keller lets us know that suffering is a part of life.      

No matter what precautions we take, no matter how well we have put together a good life, no matter how hard we have worked to be healthy, wealthy, comfortable with friends and family, and successful with our career — something will inevitably ruin it.

But at the same time, as a Christian I can find joy in my suffering, knowing that we hope in a greater joy, a greater future, namely a future in and with Christ.   I know I'm not the only one who has suffered this year, my own suffering pales in comparison to many others, those who grieve for their lost ones, those who are terminally ill, and many others who seem to suffer for absolutely no reason.  So as this year ends, I don't have any resolutions, I don't have any expectations of the year to come, I don't have any regrets of the past year that I've lived.  I hope that I don't waste 2015, that next year if I'm still alive I can look back and say it was a great year, just as this year has been.  I've had many joys, and at the same time many sorrows.   I leave you, dear reader, with this quote from Tim Keller: 

Jesus lost all his glory so that we could be clothed in it. He was shut out so we could get access. He was bound, nailed, so that we could be free. He was cast out so we could approach. And Jesus took away the only kind of suffering that can really destroy you: that is being cast away from God. He took so that now all suffering that comes into your life will only make you great. A lump of coal under pressure becomes a diamond. And the suffering of a person in Christ only turns you into somebody gorgeous.