Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 in Review

Overall 2014 was a good year, though it was one of loss. My wife and I have had a lot of struggle in our lives, but the last two have brought us something God has mercifully shielded us from for much of our earthly existence: sorrow. Over past year, and a little beyond, we suffered the loss of my dad, her mom, two beloved pets, and one of our old, faithful church members. Also, closing our church and the aftermath of that was a loss unlike anything either of us were familiar. Still, looking back, I call it a good time in our lives. Though we suffered losses, we also were blessed with much gain during the last twelve months.
We have gained some new friends. John and Patsy Misterfeld are people God has graciously placed in our lives. John is my main training partner at Twin Rivers. He is a bit old and arthritic, and while I swim, he treads water in the diving well. But John is serious about his training and mine, and he will stay in the pool as long as I am there. Sometimes he even goads me on to swim longer than I had prepared for. He has a genuine desire to see me succeed. Last fall, we did a four hour swim. He was there until the end. I told him that day that at some point in the future we would look back on these times as “the good old days.”  One thing I have lived long enough to learn is that every season in your life is in some way special. Embrace the present, cherish the past, and look forward to the future. Besides helping my swim training, John makes me pray. We start and end each session in prayer, and if I don’t pray enough, he will jump in and pray some more. I need that influence in my life right now.
We also reconnected with some old friends, Daniel and Mary Jane Collins. Daniel is a lot like that fellow me n Poot met in Carroll County in 1971. He is always pondering some deep intellectual problem. Every now and then he likes to play Socrates on my and lead me into some discussion he is prepared for and I am not. Happily he doesn’t do that too often. But he is a good influence on me. John makes me pray and train. Daniel makes me think.
Another plus for the year is the reemergence of my running. Starting in early 2009, I had four years of bad running. Four years. At my age, I don’t have too many years to lose. I gave up several times during those years because I could no longer bear the emotional turmoil of not being able to run anymore. But out of habit I just kept putting on my shoes and heading out the door. Last year I started coming around just in time to do myself in with my ill-fated attempt at the Great Noxapater Journey Run. This year, however, I am really getting back to the place where I can go out and have fun like when Buddy Bones and I do adventure marathons.  
We found a new church home. Our little church closed in May after twenty-three years of ministry there. Penny and I then set out on a quest to find a new place to worship. We found it the last place we looked. Obviously it would have been the last place we looked because why keep looking if you found it? The point I am not making well is that it was the last place on our list. I got my first teaching job that way. I made a list of twenty-three schools in the order, from one to twenty-three, that I wanted to work for them with one being my first choice. I either talked to or visited the first twenty-two and decided I did not want to work for number twenty-three. I wept, was despondent, and gave up hope of securing employment for the upcoming school year. Then, number twenty-three called me. To make a short story long, I went to work for number twenty-three and it was one of the most enjoyable years of my life. Centerville Baptist Church was like that. It was on our list but the very last one. We visited. We stayed. When a friend of mine recently inquired about the church I said, “They love Jesus and they like to eat. I can get along with that.”
God blessed us with other things in 2014:
  • Our grandchildren get better looking everyday.
  • He gave us Baby Kitty.
  • I am filled with hope and enthusiasm for the Chicot Challenge IV.
  • We still have Momma.
  • We still have Penny’s dad.
  • We still have each other. Thirty-seven years and counting.