Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Highlights and reflections from 2008

The first three tie for top place in different ways. The rest are in no particular order.
  1. Fatherly Happiness I: one of the great grand highlights of the year was being able to attend my dear and only daughter's graduation, with a Master's degree, from Middlebury College in Vermont. I'm very proud of Rachael, and the purposeful, disciplined course she set for herself. Last place in the world you want to be is between Rachael and her goals. It was a great joy to Valerie and me, as was the tour of New England that we took — particularly including that dinner at Legal Sea Foods! (Thanks, Frank!) (Dang, it's 6am, and I'm salivating at the memory!)
  2. Fatherly Happiness II: the moment my daughter's fiancĂ© (and my imminent son-in-law, DV), Kermit, asked for Valerie and my blessing, instantly went into one of the happiest moments and memories of my life. I'd come to like, love, and think very well of Kermit; had rejoiced in his growth in the Lord; had been touched by his obvious love and care for my daughter. So it was with great happiness that I was able (after, my wife alleges, making him squirm for a moment or two) to give our wholehearted blessing. Though I told him I didn't much "bless" the prospect of their moving away, before we could even hang out and have happy moments with our new family spin-off! I was glad to see my daughter marrying someone who so clearly loves and cares for her. My heart was warmed at the respect Kermit showed for her family and parents — Valerie and me — by approaching us in this way. It instantly made a sweet memory for both of us.
  3. All Sorts of Happiness: thanks to a gracious preaching invitation from Pastor Ted Steen of Calvary Community Church in Tennessee, Valerie and I made some new friends, enjoyed Together for the Gospel 2008, and got to hang with the Johnsons and the Turks. This entire time was simply a major highlight of the year. Everything about it was a blessing and a lifting of the heart. First, the Steens and their entire church were gracious, dear, loving hosts. Fellowshipping with them was a pure joy, as was ministering to them. They treated us far too well, and have a permanent and dear place in our hearts. Of course, the conference was amazing and a wonder. Valerie had her trepidations, what with all those pastors and theologians and all — but I never had a doubt that she could find it stimulating, encouraging, educational, and edifying. And she did. Plus, I was giddy at the prospect of seeing her meeting and getting to know the Turks and Johnsons. One of my greatest joys in life is either talking with Valerie, or watching her talk with others, and seeing them get a peek at what I see. Valerie is, after all, simply the most remarkable woman I've ever known. I could go on and on, there was so much to that trip. I love Phil and Darlene, and Frank and Tara, and loved the time we spent together. Hearing the T4G talks was wonderful. The books! Meeting "friends" I'd known through the blogs, meeting Thabiti, chatting with the Duncan boys. And the ongoing amazement of having people recognize me, introduce themselves, say my writing was helpful to them (in front of my wife! bonus! thanks, friends!). Seeing the beauty of the South, having time alone with Valerie. It was all good. Well... except the traffic between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. But everything else!
  4. The ongoing pleasure of working with Phil and Frank. I'll say again, it's a real treat to be associated with two guys of whom I count myself both their friend, co-laborer, and unabashed fanboy. I love and respect them, pray for them, learn from them. It means more to me than I can say.
  5. The pleasure of seeing my online ministry being of some use in the hands of God. The joy of seeing folks informed, encouraged, uplifted, emboldened, convicted, pointed to Christ and to God's sufficient Word — it's a Godsend to me, I never forget it, I never lose sight of it, and I thank God for it. Seeing hits on the map from North America, Central America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, France, Great Britain, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda — knowing that only eternity will show the fruit born by the seed sown. It gives me hope and joy.
  6. And I'll admit I don't mind causing some deserving heads to explode. Hey, someone has to do it. If not me, then who?
  7. Picking up for the month Phil and Frank were otherwise occupied was fun, posting 2-5 times a day, branching out in what I covered, was a nice run.
  8. The election outcome was a low point, as you know. But it did spark what I hope will be some useful theologizing and strategerizing.
  9. I do end the year disappointed to find myself still not in fulltime ministry of the Word, after determining to seek it. That's the second bitterest disappointment of the year (the election is actually the third).
  10. The year provided further underscoring of those 25 things I've learned, and that's not a particularly happy thing. I've seen them play out at a distance, and not so distant. Sin is deceptive and relentless. It's like cancer: you don't want any of it. If you find it, you want to seek God's grace, and use God's means, to get rid of all of it. Leave a bit of the root, and it will just grow right back, bigger and bolder than ever. Feed it a little pride, a little stubbornness, a little rationalization, and it will dominate.
So there you go. I reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks.

Blessed, joyous, God-honoring new year to you all.


J♥Yce Burrows said...

Yes ~ so wonderful.

Blessed, joyous, God-honoring new year to you, too. :-)

Kim said...

That was sweet, to hear you talk about your daughter's engagement. A proud Papa is always very nice, indeed.

I was thinking about how the thing I wished had happened this year was that Neil and I would have had the chance to meet you and Valerie... there's always 2009, right?

DJP said...

Yes ma'am; if I were to list regrets, one would be that we weren't able to put that together! We tried, though.


Rachael Starke said...

"One of my greatest joys in life is either talking with Valerie, or watching her talk with others, and seeing them get a peek at what I see."

I so completely get that sentiment with my own Phil (I always feel I have to use the possessive when referring to "my" Phil as there seems to be an excess of Phils in this corner of blogland :) ).

Which is why I second Kim's regret that all of my strategerizing failed to get that Starke/Phillips dinner together also.

So, until I get the opportunity to say it to you with Valerie in very close proximity, fell free to read alound the following when she next walks by:

I love God more obediently, and talk about Him to others with more clarity and conviction, because of your writing.

Happy New Years to all the Phillipses (and soon-to-be in-laws).

candy said...

Nice post Dan. Here's hoping your greatest dream, to be a pastor, comes true in the coming year. New England is in dire need of good pastors by the way. You could go to Legal Seafoods more often.

Andreas said...

A Spurgeon-qoute from one of the readers in Norway:

"Let January open with joy in the Lord, and December close with gladness in Jesus."

Happy new year!

Michelle said...

Thank you for your blog, Dan. It has at times encouraged, informed, challenged and inspired me and has been a blessing.

Tck: that Spurgeon quote is from his Morning & Evening devotional classic - the evening reading for January 1st.

David said...

Amen to #5

Mike Riccardi said...

Cake topper for the wedding.

Moon said...

Well, a belated congratulations on your daughter's graduation! and congratulations on her engagement!! :D

Valerie is, after all, simply the most remarkable woman I've ever known.
awww I read that post and it was just the sweetest!! Valerie sounds like a wonderful woman! :D

"I do end the year disappointed to find myself still not in fulltime ministry of the Word, after determining to seek it. That's the second bitterest disappointment of the year (the election is actually the third)"
I've been praying for ya, but you know what? a new year has begun, I pray that the Lord will finally grant you a flock to guard, and care for and teach.
God bless you and your lovely family in this new year! :)

donsands said...

The Lord has truly edified the Church through you, and through the gifts He has imparted to you.

Keep up the good work of faith, and keep preaching & teaching the truth in love through 2009.

Anonymous said...

Well, Dan, while it may not have been a "paying" position - your writing here, and on Team Pyro, have ministered to me in ways to numerous to mention.

So, in that sense, you are in full time ministry. I'm pretty sure there are others who agree.

God Bless.

Anonymous said...

That would be too numerous! Yikes!! First mistake of 2009 and I'm only two days in....

Moon said...

my thoughts as well :)