There were a number of milestones in our families in 2013. My mom turned 60 on April 1 and we threw a surprise party, her first, a few weeks later at my parents’ church. My parents also celebrated their 40th anniversary and my in-laws celebrated their 25th anniversary with a beautiful ceremony at Fairland BIC Church in Cleona, where Sara and I said our own wedding vows five years ago.
I visited my 48th state back in May as part of my third Creative Missions trip. I teamed up with my friend Dave last year and some wonderful newcomers on some website projects for a couple of church plants in the Anchorage area and after the trip ended spent Memorial Day Weekend with my first college roommate, Fred, who lives in Anchorage with his wife and two daughters. Though I spent most of my time working, the painting-like background everywhere we went was every bit as beautiful as everyone always says it is.
3. Yosemite National Park
I scratched Yosemite off my bucket list when Sara and I went to the park as part of our California vacation in July. Fortunately, we made it there before all of the wild fires and Government shutdowns. Driving was a challenge, dodging deer and other wildlife and handling switchbacks on windy roads with no guard rails but the scenery was well worth it.
4. Record shopping in Nashville, San Antonio and Austin
Sara had a couple work conferences this year so I tagged along with her to Nashville and San Antonio and had plenty of time to explore both cities and hunt for records and do other nerdy things I love like go to the Johnny Cash Museum, explore the site of the 1968 World’s Fair and find the Daniel Johnston mural in Austin.
5. Moving to a college campus
I didn’t go to Eastern University and I don’t work there, but I became a resident of one of the country’s most beautiful campuses in August and minus the occasional late night phone call for Sara, the Doane Hall resident director, it’s been a blast (not paying rent or utilities is pretty nice, too).
6. Red Bull Away
I attended my first Philadelphia Union away game at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., and it was an incredible experience standing with a couple hundred other Union supporters cheering the boys in blue and gold to victory. Also up there was seeing the U.S. Men’s National team score five goals in a friendly in San Diego and watching Louisville come back from a 2-0 deficit in the first half to win in a game we caught in Louisville on our way back from Nashville. I also saw my first soccer game in Canada during our June trip to Toronto but it unfortunately it was a forgettable one for the Union.
7. Shenandoah and the Big Apple
I ended up doing a couple road trips with each of my brothers this year. Mike and I went to Shenandoah National Park at the end of August and camped out for a couple nights and Dave and I did an overnight trip to New York City in November. I’m blessed to have two incredible brothers as my closest guy friends and both trips reminded me how fortunate I am to have both of them in my life.
8. Salinas, Cannery Row and John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck has been my favorite author since middle school so getting to go to the museum in his hometown of Salinas, walk down Cannery Row in Monterey and have lunch at his boyhood home were truly a dream come true.
I haven’t been an official member of a church since I graduated confirmation class as a kid so it was kind of a big deal to commit to Blue Route Vineyard, the church we have been attending in Media since June 2012. We also joined a small group and started helping with kids church.
10. Eastern University
Seeing Sara fulfill her dream of working in higher education at her alma mater was an incredible blessing and answer to prayer in 2013. After years of having jobs she liked but didn’t love, it’s awesome to see her thriving in a position that’s difficult and demanding but a perfect fit for her skills and expertise. I like to say now that my wife is a powerful person because she is – she is in charge of a building of nearly 200 college kids, the boss of nine RAs and the assistant dean of students. Can you tell I’m proud?