2009 was a whirlwind. I feel like I've lived two or three years in these twelve short months. And even though it was a year filled with great anxiety and uncertainty on the one hand, it was a year full of joy at the same time. God is good, and as I look back over the year I see his guidance in every step. Some memories...
- We started our year off in Seattle at Adam and Meghan's house, surrounded by friends from Newport. We had been invited to lead worship for a few weeks after Christmas, and it was a real blessing to enjoy family and friends in the Pacific Northwest for a little bit.
- I continued to serve as one of the pastors at Access, a multi-ethnic Evangelical Covenant church plant in Houston.
- Jacob got a cell phone for his birthday and was very, very, very happy.
- Luanne flew to California to surprise her dad for his 75th birthday party. Since the rest of us couldn't go, we wrote a song and made a video.
- I was privileged to lead worship at the annual Covenant Midwinter pastor's conference.
- The non-profit I was working with in Houston at the time, Vox Culture, was featured on Natalie J. Evans's radio show, "The Night Train" on KCOH. Ted Law, Dune-Patten Miceli, Ayad Fadel and I were interviewed.
- I got to see Lucinda Williams live.
- Vox Culture hosted "Vox Populi," a 2-day art/music/food/spoken word/social event to raise money for Floresta.
- Em & Zach starred in their First Grade Musical at Rummel Creek Elementary.
- Grandpa Chuck and Grandma Linda visited Houston.
- We decided to leave Houston, Access and Vox in search of a better fit for our family. It was a terribly painful decision that we still feel was the right decision, but it was definitely the low point of the year. To leave a mission that we really loved and believed in after such a short time... Ted and the leadership of Access could not have been more gracious.
- I started the process of looking for a new job.
- We had a beautiful Good Friday Tenebrae service at the Access Office, and a great Easter celebration service at Ashford Oaks.
- Access moved into its new home, The Warehouse.
- Josh's 8th Eighth-Grade Guys group (EGGS) from Memorial Drive Pres had a retreat, and I was honored to lead worship and speak.
- We had a ridiculous flood... 10 inches of rain fell in 4-5 hours, and every room in our house was covered by an inch of water. This all happened in the middle of the night.
- I auditioned for America's Got Talent. Apparently I don't. :)
- Luanne and Josh celebrated birthdays.
- Jake participated in the Rummel Creek 5th Grade Talent Show. He does have talent.
- On Sunday, May 31, we said goodbye to Access.
- My beautiful new 120G iPod Classic died, and Apple came through in a big way.
- We said goodbye to our ministry partners, TEAM Law, at the Memorial City Mall ice rink.
- Jake graduated from 5th Grade.
- On June 4, we picked up our kids from school and headed for Dallas.
- We spent a weekend in Tulsa, checking out Redeemer Covenant and the area.
- We drove from Tulsa to Simi Valley in two vehicles... across Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
- We moved in (for the second time) with Luanne's parents. Eight of us in a small, three-bedroom home. It was tight, and it was loud, but there was a lot of love there, so it was good.
- My newest niece, Anne, was born.
- I continued to candidate for worship positions and lead as a guest worship leader in Sacramento (at one of my favorite churches, Bayside of South Sacramento), Simi Valley and Los Altos. Doors opened, doors closed.
- We spent the week of July 4 at Mission Springs in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I led worship with Luanne and her brother, Dominic. It was great to be in the Bay Area again with friends and family.
- Thanks to David Greco and Ben Wysocki, I got to see Buddy Miller, Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin and Shawn Colvin at the Greek Theater.
- I flew to Kansas City to interview for a worship pastor position at Community Covenant Church in Lenexa. I fell in love with the people there and felt a lot of hope for the future... whether there or at Redeemer.
- I candidated for the Redeemer job: working with the band, vocal team and choir; interviewing with the staff and Leadership Team; and having lots of meals with people.
- On July 30, with great relief and a real sense of peace, we accepted the position in Tulsa and made plans to move in just a few short weeks...
- On August 4, I released my 2005 recording, Still Standing, through Noisetrade.
- Luanne and I flew to Tulsa the weekend of August 9th. I led worship at Redeemer, and we worked with our realtor, Stephanie Howerton, to find a house. Home-ownership had always been just a dream, but with the $8,000 tax credit and a lot of help and encouragement, we were able to purchase our first house, right across the Arkansas River from Tulsa, in the little town of Jenks.
- Luanne and I celebrated 16 years of marriage.
- We left Simi Valley on August 18, and headed across the country again. We took our time this time around, stopping in Lake Havasu for a day of jet skiing, Flagstaff, Albuquerque, Amarillo, and finally arriving at our new home in Tulsa on the 22nd.
- The kids started school, a week and a half late, on the 25th.
- August 30 was my first day leading worship as the new Director of Worship Ministries at Redeemer.
- We got to know Travis Kyles, who quickly became like another son... He and Josh and Jake were just about inseparable.
- On Labor Day, our whole church family was hit with the tragic news of the death of Zachary Wertz. Please continue to lift up this precious family in prayer as you think of them.
- Em & Zach celebrated their eighth birthday!
- As part of the birthday celebration, our new bunny Thumper entered our lives.
- We lost Uncle Dominic. We will miss this great man. Lots of love and prayers went out for Aunt Merrilee, John and DonnaLee and their families, and Lou, Dolly and Jeanette.
- I turned ::gulp:: thirty-eight.
- On October 4, Redeemer had its "On the Lawn" festival. Unfortunately, it had to become "On the Carpet" due to rain, but I got to sing some of my music with a cool band, Pandemic, backing me up.
- Luanne and I saw The B-52's, Dave Matthews Band and Willie Nelson live - all right here in Tulsa.
- Josh, Jake and I drove to the OU campus in Norman to see U2 on the 360° tour. It was unbelievable. And it was all the more special to get to share it with my incredulous sons.
- Luanne's parents drove out to visit us and stayed for 10 days or so.
- We built a skate ramp in the back yard.
- On November 8, Redeemer experienced "Simply Worship," experiencing and responding to God through Word, Sacrament and acoustic music. Simple, stripped-down, interactive...
- Emily and Zach got to go on their "2nd Grade Trips."
- I got to see Switchfoot live at our local Qdoba. Don't ask.
- For Thanksgiving vacation, our family drove up to St. Louis and met my mom and dad. We went up in the Gateway Arch and then drove together to Evansville, Indiana, where we met my brother and sister and their families. It was the first time we had all been together since October 2006. We drove down to Central City, Kentucky, on Thanksgiving Day to be with my aunts, uncles and cousins. It's the first time I had been in Kentucky for Thanksgiving in more than a decade. We had a great time. It was SO fun to have all the cousins together in the hotel in Evansville... swimming, eating, playing, seeing a movie, having an "early Christmas" together. Awesome.
- On December 20, I produced my first Christmas Cantata at Redeemer. This is an annual concert with orchestra and choir, and it was a big deal. I'm grateful for how well it went and how well it was received! It was the first time I've worked with an orchestra like this, so it was a little nervewracking, but more exciting than anything else.
- We got snowed out of our Christmas Eve services. First time in a decade I've been home on Christmas Eve. Disappointing but wonderful at the same time.
- Travis Kyles moved back to North Carolina, and we miss him terribly. We're praying for you, Travis!
As Dag Hammarskjöld wrote in Markings, a collection of his journal entries published in 1964, "For all that has been - Thanks. For all that shall be - Yes."