Friday, December 31, 2010

The 2010 Highlight Reel

I was pedaling away in a spin class at FBC Fitness yesterday morning when, after a particularly grueling series of spin exercises, one of the ladies in the class said to the instructor, "I'm taking you off my list of the year's ten most influential people in my life." That got me to thinking. And so I did this: near the end of the class the instructor asked us to think of our top three blessings of 2010. So, after a day of reflecting on such things, I decided to run my 2010 highlight reel. There's no video, only words, but I see pictures in my mind when I run down these highlights. Here goes, and they are in no particular order, by the way.

1. The birth of our fourth grandchild, Macey Jo Parrish, on October 2. At one point, she was due on my birthday. That didn't happen, but she happened, and are there any greater blessings than grandchildren?

2. Bible-storying in Paris with men from Taiba, Senegal. Our church has been building relationships with the people of Taiba for three years now. We minister to them in Paris and in their village in Senegal. They are warm, hospitable people who give us as much as we give them. We've offered medical, dental, and eye-glass care for them. On our last trip to Senegal they allowed us to show the Jesus film. But Paris in October is the first opportunity we've had to engage them in spiritual conversations based on Bible stories. That is the beginning of an answer to many prayers, and it was a thrill to be a part of it. The fact that my son was able to be in on it too just made it all the more a highlight for 2010.

3. A man named Danny who came to know Jesus. Before they moved to a new state, Danny's wife and sons were a part of our church family. Danny played some softball on one of our teams and visited church occasionally, but labled himself as an atheist. Slowly, and on the wings of many prayers, Danny became a bit more open to Christ and His claims. I received an email from his wife earlier this week telling me that Danny made a decision to follow Jesus. What a great reminder of patient prayers and waiting on God!

4. My sabbatical. I get one of these every few years. The church allowed me to take off for the whole month of August. We traveled to see family. We visited Washington, D.C. for the first time. I got to watch the Baltimore Orioles (my favorite team in my childhood) in Camden Yards. And I actually got some rest—well, a little.

5. Insanity. No, not a mental illness; an exercise program. It's 63 days of the most intense cardio work I've ever done. I do a lot of intense exercise, but when I finished day 1, I told my wife, "That was the most intense thing I've ever done in exercise." When I finished day 2, I told her, "That was the most intense thing I've ever done." It is a butt-kicking, body-shaping, fat-burning, muscle-sculpting workout. It's insane. And I was so thankful to God and proud of myself that I actually finished. Who knows? I may do it again in 2011.

6. My son got engaged. After around three or four years of being single, my son popped the question to his longtime girlfriend. "Wilt thou?" he asked. And she wilted. She's a peach. She loves God. She loves our grandchildren. No date set just yet, but should be sometime in 2011. I'm thankful for God's grace, new beginnings, and promising futures.

7. The Razorbacks go to the Sugar Bowl. Only an Arkansas Razorback fan would understand how big this is for our fan base. We've been close so many times and just never seem to breakthrough. This year we broke through: our first BCS game. And our coach wants to stay with us a long time. Many of us feel like Sally Field when she won the Oscar years ago: "He loves us. He really loves us." Wooo pig sooie! Beat the Buckeyes!

8. Mike Pounders. Our church voted to call Mike Pounders to a part-time position as Administrative Pastor. He begins work on January 1. It's a joy to see him back in the vocational ministry. He brings so much to our church family: a love for God, a love for his family, a love for people, and very good administrative and pastoral skills. He's served so well in this wilderness time between ministry posts, but I think he's felt like he's been on the bench. Well, your back in the game again, Mike. Praise God!

9. FBC Fitness. Last spring our church started a fitness ministry. It's been touch and go financially, but we're seeing lives getting whole and healthy physically and spiritually! We've opened another door to Christ and the church and God is using it, and I'm grateful.

In spite of the fact that I could go on, I'm stopping there. Your job is to pick up where I left off and make your own list. Remember, reflect, and give thanks. At this point every year, I can't help but think of the third verse to a great hymn:

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come.
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

Happy New Year!

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