Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013: A Review

2013 was a big year for me and my family. I started the year living with my in-laws and working as a part time cook making nearly minimum wage at a restaurant. I ended the year working full-time as a pastor again, living on a farm!

I've taken some time and thought about ten of my favorite experiences/memories of the year. Here they are, in no particular order.

Xavier turns one!

In May, Xavier celebrated his first birthday! We invited our family and friends to join in the celebration with us. The Curious George-themed party was held at High Street Nazarene. 

Xavier has been an absolute blast to watch this year as he's grown up from a baby who was just learning to walk at the beginning of the year to a toddler full of confidence who runs throughout the house screaming and yelling for no real reason. 

His current favorite things are Nemo, Elmo, playing 1-2-3 with daddy (which means me throwing him around like a rag doll, complete with tosses that land him on the couch or bed) and the drum set he received from his grandparents for Christmas. Mommy and Daddy aren't so sure about the drums, and we're tired of watching that silly orange fish and red muppet, but you do what you do for your kid, right? I am definitely not sick of playing 1-2-3, though, because the laughter that generates from playing that game with Xavier is absolutely amazing!

General Assembly

Every four years, the entire Church of the Nazarene gathers together. I desperately wanted to attend in 2009 when GA was in Orlando. I was all set to go to General Assembly in 2013, I was actually elected as a delegate for the NWO NYI. However, when I lost my job, I lost my seat on the delegation and was unable to attend the big assembly. Holly and I made the trek to Indianapolis for the Sunday Morning service, though. We really enjoyed being in a room of that size with Nazarenes from all over the world. It was really awesome being there. Coincidentally, it was kind of our last day as Nazarenes, as that was the day we got the call from Hillside to be the Family Pastor there, which leads us to...

New Pastoral Position

We spent a year searching for a new pastoral position. We received the call from Hillside Ave. Church of God on June 23 of 2013. We were in Indianapolis when we received the news. I started in the office the next day, moving all of my things in. We've been there a little over six months now. Learning a new congregation is difficult, but we've also been learning an entirely new movement, The Church of God, Anderson, doesn't call themselves a denomination, which is one of the many, many quirks we've discovered about the Church of God in the past six months. I've preached there 5 times, I think (I'm averaging about once a month). The picture is from my first day. It felt like the first day of school, so I made sure to take a picture that looked like a "first day of school" type picture, complete with the childish grin. 

My Writing Career Began

Most of my friends know that Holly and I love to play Pathfinder. One of my dreams, since we started playing, was to do some freelance writing for the game. In 2012, I received credit as an editor for a book from Jon Brazer Enterprises. I eagerly wanted to get into the business as a writer. I sent an email to another small publisher, Raging Swan Press. The publisher set me up with a line to work on, which published four volumes before being discontinued. I've continued working for Raging Swan, with two more products set to be released in early 2014. I'd still like to publish an adventure, that will be my primary writing goal in 2014.

The Day Xavier Started Making Faces

2013 started out with me serving as a stay at home daddy for 4-5 days a week. I was used to enjoying breakfast with Xavier, then cooking my own (something I miss now that I'm usually eager to get moving toward the office in the mornings). One day, out of the blue, Xavier started making faces at me. It was most definitely one of the funniest things I had ever seen. I later found out that his Aunt Hehe (Heather) was responsible for teaching him, but I had never seen him do it, so it was absolutely hilarious to me!

Moving to the Farm

In July, we finally moved out of my in-laws' house! We were (and are) super-grateful to them for everything they did for us over our year in The Land Between, but we were glad to be on the other side of that place and in a home of our own. Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that there is literally nothing about me that would've suggested that life on the farm was for me. But I've proved myself and all of those people wrong. I love living on the farm. We currently have 5 chickens (four hens and a rooster). I'm planning on getting four or five more in the Spring to add to our flock. My favorite Christmas gift, actually, was a pair of "muck boots" and coveralls from my in-laws. I used them today as I cleaned out the hen house. Now, I'm just hoping my chickens survive what's being forecasted as the coldest winter in recent memory.

The S'mores Blizzard

This is at least slightly silly. Dairy Queen announced, via their Twitter, that they were introducing a S'mores Blizzard in the Summer of 2013. I was so excited for WEEKS leading up to the Memorial Day roll out. It became something of an adventure, though, when we attempted to finally procure the delicious frozen treat! I was running all the time, and doing my best to make sure I wasn't eating a ton of sweets and we didn't find the S'mores Blizzard until our FOURTH Dairy Queen stop. We finally found the most awesome thing to hit the Blizzard since... ever, and it did not disappoint. The S'mores Blizzard became my official flavor of 2013. We even enjoyed some of these Blizzards on our way home from that fateful trip to Indianapolis. These Blizzards, and this song will forever be associated with the Summer of 2013. I even invented the hashtag #smoresblizzard to celebrate the most delicious Blizzard of all time.


I wrote a lengthy post about this experience; you can find it here

I started running with the intention of just running for fun. At some point, I decided I wanted to try some distance, and ran a half-marathon. This was an incredibly difficult challenge for me. When my friends and I finished the half, one of them asked "does this make you want to run a full?" His answer was no, and my other friend's answer was no. I said, "YES!" It really did. I wanted to see if I could complete the next challenge level. I heard stories, after that experience, that marathon running was something the human body wasn't designed to do. People told me it was dangerous to put your body through that. I don't care what those people say. I wanted to run a marathon and count myself among the tiny percentage of people who get to call themselves marathoners. With any luck, I'll run my second marathon in 2014. 2013, however, will be the year I got to add "26.2" to my list of life accomplishments.

Return to the Second City

We didn't take our camera, so there are no real lasting images from the trip that Holly and I took to Chicago the week of Thanksgiving. I had gone to Chicago in the summer of 2012 on a mission trip with my students, but Holly hadn't gotten to go. We went the week of Thanksgiving because hotels are insanely cheap that week. We had an awesome time, Xavier stayed with his grandparents and we enjoyed some adult-time. Chicago is a fun city to visit.

We stayed in the Gold Coast neighborhood, which may be my new favorite place ever! We ate Giordano's world famous stuffed pizza and had Garret's popcorn at Navy Pier. The food highlight of the trip, though was the little Italian restaurant we found thanks to Yelp. It was literally across the street from our hotel and it was INCREDIBLE! I had the greatest cannoli for dessert. 

Wipe your drool away, then continue scrolling down for the final entry on the list.

Gathering with Friends

On January 1, 2013, we met our friends Nate and Kristen to hang out. They have a son who is a month younger than Xavier. This was the first of many, many, many encounters we'd have with our friends this year. Israel and Jenne hosted us for an evening of awesomeness. Our grandparents had us over for dinner and we taught them how to play Settlers. We played quite a few games with Holly's parents. 

In April, I went to my best friend Marc's house to revel in the WWE goodness of Wrestlemania. We marked out like kids watching Triple H and Undertaker wrestle matches. Marc and I are each celebrating our 30th birthdays in 2014, so there will surely be more to come from him and I this coming year!

In August, my friend Nate, who writes an awesome blog of his own, came to Ohio for a vacation with his family. I, and a few other friends, met up with him in Mt. Vernon to play a couple board games. Nate taught me two awesome games that day, Kings of Tokyo and Cosmic Encounter. Both of these games were magnificent, and the company was superb.

Then, the day after Christmas, I met up in Columbus with two of my best friends from college. Byrdy and Stryker lived with me in Birch 213 for one year. We got together and had coffee at Tim Hortons and caught up. I hadn't seen Stryker in about 5 years, and it had been 3 years since I had seen Byrdy.

2014 Awaits

These are just some of the highlights of the year. As I was looking through my Instagram and Facebook feeds looking for pictures from the year, I saw a bunch of other awesome memories.

What are some of your favorite memories from 2014, and how do you plan on making 2014 even better?


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