Saturday, December 31, 2016

Birthday Thoughts and Happy New Year!

What a CRAZY year 2016 has been!  Though things didn’t always go as I had planned, I’ve felt really blessed this year. I'd like to share how I've experienced that prayers DO get answered . Here’s some of the things I prayed for.

I actively prayed to “see new sights”  and travel more. Didn’t happen as I had expected – but glad it did. Don’t really have the time or money, but GOD gave me the opportunity! Since my company was bought out last year, this year I was able to travel (expenses paid) to the following for my new employer.

  • Birmingham Alabama – Worked with a great team, and had some delicious BBQ!
  • Los Angeles California – First time west of the Mississippi! Met other team members, Could see the Hollywood sign from my workspace, and tried Korean BBQ and sushi for the first time!
  • Hackettstown New Jersey – Had an amazing drive to and from on some backroads of Pennsylvania and New Jersey
  • Columbia Maryland (twice) – Learned the joys of Jimmy Johns and a Phillips Crab Pretzel
  • Buffalo New York – Smallest plane I ever had flown (prop, not jet) Took a trip to see Niagara Falls, with a bonus of fireworks! Buffalo has best wings ever!
  • Chicago, Illinois – Did “The Loop” Hiked along Riverwalk, The Navy Pier, and Millennial Park. Ate authentic Deep Dish and first time for Poutine. Was blessed to meet friend Dina and family – and her new granddaughter  - enjoyed a meal together - found out we had the same flight home!
  • Jacksonville, Florida – Was able to take a road trip along the coast to St. Augustine, hit the beach, hike an estuary, and enjoy conch fritters!

I actively prayed for better connections with my family. God allowed me to see how parenting has changed for us. I’ve learned that I’m a “father of adults”. Discussions are better, and time together is now less about moulding our girls into proper young ladies, and more about allowing them the discovery of who they themselves have grown to be. With less stress to worry about raising two ”little“ girls, this year Amy and I spent some quality time together – even if some of that time is lounging in our living room, Netflix on the TV, snoring with each other J
It’s a blessing that even at 19 and 24, our daughters still love to travel with Amy and I. We love to spend time in our motorhome, revisiting old haunts, and adventuring into new ones. It’s one of the ways I love to reconnect, and recharge together. Places RVed in 2016:

  • Lancaster – A regular favorite, but having snow made it extra pretty.
  • French Creek State Park – Relaxing and hiking in the place my parents loved.
  • Amherst, New York – Emily’s choice (two thumbs up!) – to visit the town that poetess Emily Dickinson lived her life in. Some cool hiking and a side trip to the Eric Carle museum made it even better.
  • College Park – Planned to hit Washington DC - didn’t - and glad we hit some new sights instead!
  • Jonestown Pa – There is something calming about setting up camp next to a stream.
  • Central PA  “Guys Trip”  with Ed and Kev - great travel partners as usual.  New Traveler Little Liam caught SO many fish! Got to tour a coal mine and walk around Centralia. Went to Knoebels for the rides – stayed for the food!
  • Man Caving – So it may seem counter intuitive to have alone time, but it is really healthy to do. Sometimes I enjoy doing work on our RV, making her more homey, or just sitting and enjoying some quiet time in my “mobile mancave” to revive on my own.

I actively prayed to have time to help others more. I had to step away from serving with Roxborough Church Youth Program, and the ASH Theater Group for kids because of  my responsibilities at work. I missed helping them, but could not devote the time needed for those outreaches. Amy chose to start a new job – at the church, an outreach to those with food insecurities. “The Table” serves neighbors and families that need good food – The Table provides not just canned and boxed items, but fresh produce, meats, and baked items too! Pickups of those items many times occur on weeknights, or weekends after the donating grocery or bakery closes. Perfect timing for me to lend a hand. It’s been a blessing to know we are helping families in our own neighborhood that are in need. It’s been both challenging and fun helping by my wife’s side when I can.
I’ve also served as an elder at Roxborough Church for two consecutive terms of office. Per the by-laws I need to take at least a year off. Though I’ll still serve as I can, I’ll use the time to discern details of what GOD has planned for my path as I am getting older. There are ideas and possibilities that come before me as clearer, and I want to be faithful to what I believe I’m being led to.

Do I feel some prayers went unanswered? Of course. Some situations in my life are still not as I would like. There are still many wrongs in this world that need to be corrected. I ponder and question how those who should be leaders are acting, or see our world as something that is to be theirs to take, with no giving in return. Why some I know have so little compassion. That some people I pray for have a differing perspective of what is important. But I need to remind myself that it is “In His timing, not mine.”
Looking back at 2016, there were plenty of surprises in my life. I’m thankful for each opportunity that was given, every challenge met, every win, and every failure I need to learn from.
Wishing you a Happy New Year, and that you can find the blessings you’ve experienced in 2016.
I’m looking forward in 2017 to what GOD is bringing!