Monday, January 9, 2017

2016 in the Rearview Mirror

We’re a week into 2017. I thought I’d take a look back at what went well. And what didn’t.

First, health:

Last year, I started off losing weight. Not to worry, I found it all by the end of the year. What went wrong? I didn’t make a real change in lifestyle—exercise never became a habit. Eating right sized portions didn’t become a habit. Backing away from the cookies, well, it wasn’t something I made a true part of my life.

What will I do differently? Ann and I have a definite plan, and it’s a plan that takes into account the strange things that crop up from time to time. And, I’m realizing that I can’t negotiate with the snack drive. It’s not “I won’t eat this (twinkie, etc…), so instead, I’ll eat (some of this and some of that).” If it’s not a true need to eat, then don’t eat. And definitely stop the stress and boredom eating. Food doesn’t meet psychological/emotional needs.

Anything go right? I managed my asthma well, even with a trip out of the country. I think I pick up a small Peruvian illness but I got over it.

Second, learning:

I’m back in school. I’m striving to meet the language requirements to enter a Ph.D. program. I’m still wrestling with whether or not Ph.D., D.Min., or something else like MBA/MPA is what I need to do. For now, I’ll chase the Ph.D. Can’t hurt to be “Dr. Hibbard” in the academic world.

Beyond that, I did not read nearly as much as I should have. I let too many weeks go by without knocking out a real book. I did pack away some fiction, but I had a stack of nonfiction that I should have read (and reviewed.) This year, I have a schedule for it.

Of course, I also have a goal of clearing my “Want-to read” shelf on the library website.

While we’re here: get a library card. Go to the library. Use what the library has. If you’re in Central Arkansas, CALS is awesome. Pick your nearest branch, put books you want on hold, and you can read from across the system. It’s great. You’re paying for it in taxes—use it. And then find ways to help out, too.

Third, family:

For the first time in several years, we took a vacation. It was good. We’re going back to the same place this year. I think we also made some progress strengthening our relationships after the move chaos kind of strained everything.

Fourth, writing:

Did I put out a book? No. Did I blog well? No. Did I get back to writing at or for the Arkansas Baptist News? No.

That’s got to change. I think better when I write.

Fifth, work:

I know, I’m a pastor. Therefore, two assumptions get made. First, it’s not that hard. And second, it’s not really “work,” anyway.

Actually, like any job, it has its moments. Even moments that I miss getting yelled at over boxes at UPS. I also tend to get irritable when things don’t go as smoothly as I picture. Except that, at times, I think I’ve explained things clearly and I haven’t at all. So, I’m working on that. Oddly enough, most of the pastoral work that’s “work” isn’t the things like teaching, preaching, counseling, funerals, and so forth…it’s the other issues (like trying to explain why you can’t have coffee in the sanctuary, when I really love the idea of having a nice fresh mug of coffee in the sanctuary my own self, but the spills are too much trouble, so it’s a no-no) that are work.

Sixth, friends:

I’ve got some. And I’m trying to do better about reconnecting with them on an ongoing basis.

Seventh, preaching:

I put this in a different category than “work” because it’s a skillset all its own. And because, honestly, if I were to go back to Big Brown tomorrow, I’d still look for a place to preach. (Besides, Big Brown doesn’t pay enough to start.)

I think I made progress in integrating using a pre-printed outline for listeners, as well as integrating using a media projector outline. It’s not a strong point yet—I’m afraid to depend on the technology to make a point, because I’m just suspicious enough of the tech. Probably has to do with being borderline between GenX and Millennial. The Millennial pull is to use the technology. The GenX side remembers waiting on software saved on cassette tapes and the Pentium Floating Point Unit issue.

Still, it’s getting better. I’m also going to pick One Year to Better Preaching back up for a reread. (If you are a preacher and are more than 2 years past your last “how-to” class, grab a copy. There’s probably something there you can use. Unless you’ve been it at it longer than 20 years(how long I’ve been at it), then I won’t presume to tell you to do so. But you might find value.)

Eighth, finances:

Ha! Next question. Seriously, we’re still trying to dig out of the hole from the last house we bought. And we’ve bought another one. Plus there’s the move, and there’s a few other things at hand. We’re getting there, but we get there better together.

Ninth, marriage and family:

Eighteen years. She’s put up with me for eighteen years. I still don’t know why. I’d have driven me up to Canada and dumped me in Nunavut. I think we’re doing better about communicating and growing together spiritually.

Family-wise, we’ve made the decision to grow our family. Ideally, we’re pursuing adoption. Barring that, we have a list of friends whose kids we like and might consider swiping. Of course, they’ll notice and want their kids back. But Eric’s not on the Internet much, so he won’t know.

Tenth, spiritually:

(I saved the most important two for last.) Last year was stagnant. God loves me. I try to love God. But last year was more about habits than relationship. This year, I’m changing up a few habits and am going to try and chronicle a bit of that here.

What does that look like? I want to get back to finding joy in Christ through all things, and to showing that joy. Christianity is a religious relationship and a relational religion—both horizontally and vertically. I want to get back on track with all of the above.

That’s my year in the rearview mirror.

But rearview mirrors are only for short drives, when you need to back up and get on track.

So, that’s enough retrospection for the evening.

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