The first half of 2011 has been better than I could have imagined. This year I feel like I've accomplished some things that I've been pursuing for a long time. I feel like I have reaped the rewards that come with discipline as well as have experienced some things I can only attribute to the grace of a good and loving God.
First, Kelli and I have recently found out that we will be having our second child in late March of 2012. (if you're offended that you found out about this on my blog and not from my mouth, all I can do is preemptively apologize!). I am very excited to have another kid and see how he/she contrasts with Gram. Everyone says this, but I cannot even IMAGINE what having a second child will be like in terms of love. How can I possibly love another child as much as I love Gram. He's been one of the greatest blessings in my life. Everyone says that the second will feel the same. I will trust their opinion. :)
Second, I was blessed to receive a full year of tuition thanks to the Marvin O. Johnson Educational Ministry Scholarship as I begin the Th.M program at Western Seminary. I received my M.Div at Western and am going back to start some post-graduate work to experience and devote myself to some more research oriented work surrounding historical theology. I feel incredibly thankful and blessed to have received this honor and look forward to working hard in the program. This fall I'll be focusing on Augustine as well as the New Perspective on Paul/Canon.
Third, I've lost 25 lbs. this year, most of it coming off in April-June. This is something I've been vowing to do for the last several years. Since college I have had little discipline in terms of eating and exercising. In high school I was an athlete and everything came easy. After college, I started to put on some weight and exercise became miserable (no doubt thanks to the regular 1am Dominos pizza + unlimited soda). This year Kelli and I have drastically changed our diet (much thanks to our wonderful doctor: Maureen Mays). It wasn't a fad diet and it wasn't unhealthy. We simply removed sugar from our diet and started eating smaller, healthier portions. (I have a copy of the menu if you want it). Running and playing basketball feel about 50x easier now that the weight is off. I went from barely being able to run a mile, to running 3 miles after three times out. I feel great. Related to that, my Triglycerides are below normal (131) for the first time, possibly in my entire life (hard to say). This is something genetic that has plagued my family for generations and it feels good to catch it early and start to change the pattern. If you're name has a "Bagby" in it and you're reading this, it would be wise to get yours checked out!
Fourth, I'm thankful for fantastic friends. While I have felt incredibly blessed and victorious in certain areas, it has also been a year marked by new challenges, experiences, and difficulties. In light of that, I'm not sure what I'd do without such a supportive wife (a better pastor's wife I cannot even imagine!), some very close friends, and a wonderful home community. In the last few years I have learned the value of choosing the right partner for a life of ministry. If you are single and pursuing pastoral ministry of any kind, one of the most important decisions you will make is who you marry (assuming you are pursuing marriage)! I might write more on this later.
Fifth, Kelli's parents, who are both retired, have decided to spend a good part of the year in Portland. I know that many couples have in-law conflicts and such but I am blessed to have a generous, thoughtful, and loving family that I've been welcomed into. I look forward to Mike and Lisa sharing life with us (and I know Gram does too!).
Honestly, this has been a fantastic year. I am learning, growing, and changing. And while it is clear that I have a lot of room to grow and I'm becoming aware of some of my deficiencies, I'm thankful for where God has brought me in my life.
I've also realized recently that ALL of this could change in an instant and so I do not want to take any of this for granted. I look forward to Pt. 2 of 2011 with optimism, but more, a trust that no matter what happens, God is with us.