Just about four years ago exactly, having been prompted by some friends to do so, I wrote a list of 25 things about myself. The beginning of a New Year is often a time of reflection, as well as a time for looking forward to what is to come. I thought it would be fun, today, to look back over the list and update it, or change it entirely, depending on the subject. Here’s a link to the first entry. I’m going to try to go point by point, but some have changed so much that they demand all new material. With that said, here are 25 new things.
1. I’ve finished seminary. This isn’t really new news, as I graduated nearly 7 months ago, but four years ago I was just starting, staring at a whopping 104 hours to go before I would be done. At the time, it seemed like an almost insurmountable task, but now that I’m done, I realize that what God demands, he also gives. If I am certain of anything, it is that should I write another list like this in four years, I will know this to be even more true.
2. My wife is still the most beautiful woman in the world to me. But now, I’d say she’s most beautiful when she’s caring for one of our children.
3. The total number of surgeries I’ve had in my life still stands at 14. The last few times I’ve been in a hospital have all been Donnette related. *
4. Both of my children are, at least to this point, completely healthy. This is certainly a blessing. But I’ve also become convinced that there are worse things that can happen. Which frees me to fear the thing I truly loathe the most…snakes.
5. I’m still a pretty good chef, in fact probably better now than I was four years ago. However, if I write this list again in four years, having spent 3+ of them in France, well, lets just say things are looking up.
6. Having friends while having kids has turned out to be a tricky thing. It is hard to maintain relationships with people our age, since almost everyone our age has kids, and we have kids, and more often at not, their kids aren’t sleeping at the same time our kids are. Four years ago, I wrote that my best friend was Keith Holt, and I’d still take a bullet for that guy. Moreover, I’ve still got a number of good friends that love and care about me despite the fact that we see much less of them than we used to. But, if I were forced to name a “bestie” right now, it’d probably be the curly red-head asleep in the next room.
7. Again, Donnette is still my best friend. But I have found it fascinating how much I like spending time with my kids. Because, to be honest, I’ve never much enjoyed time spent with other kids. They’re boring, their jokes are hackneyed, and their prone to making messes. Donnette has always loved being around other people’s kids. Me? Toleration at best. But with Avonlea, (and I’m assuming Oliver too) I enjoy every minute of my time with them, even when they’re at their worst. ** It’s a grace, I suppose.
8. I still love my in-laws. If saying goodbye to my family will be the toughest thing I have to do before we move to France, then saying goodbye to them will rank a close second.
9. I still love cookbooks, and have added to my collection as often as I could these last four years. The world of high-end cooking has sort of passed the home cook by, and so many of my books are really only good for the pictures and starting points for simpler creations. But I love them all the same, and do not have any intention of leaving them behind when we go overseas.
10. I used to drink a lot of Diet Pepsi. Now I drink a lot of water. I also weigh about 80 lbs less than when I wrote this list the first time. There is a correlation.
11. I still believe all scripture to be true, and recently had to affirm so for my ordination. I am glad that I am a part of a denomination that would get rid of me should my views on this matter ever change.
12. Nik moved away, but the move wasn’t permanent. Even though I love that he is free to hang out with me at weird times and almost always at my house, I’d be happy to give him up to the right lady.
13. I’d take Target over Wal-Mart, but from an economic standpoint, it’s hard to beat the rollback.
14. I haven’t bought myself new plates in a while. Donnette complains about the lack of space too much to make it worth it. Donnette, on the other hand, having waited to the last-minute to get me anything for my birthday/ Christmas/ father’s day has bought me plates on many occasions. After the last set, I told her no more complaining.
15. My grandmother is still around, and she is still the best grandmother a person could ask for. She was at my ordination service, she prays for us everyday, and she loves the Gators enough to have watched that debacle against Louisville the other night. Can you say that about your grandmother?
16. We lost my dad to a heart attack, just a few months after I wrote the original list. It wasn’t a surprise, exactly, but still, we didn’t see it coming. I’d love to say something profound about what I’ve learned in the months and years since his death, but this post is more on the light-hearted side of things the last thing I want to do is trivialize such a profoundly life-changing time for my family and myself. I will say this though, in the years since Neil’s death, the rest of our family has come together and become much closer, and that is something I know he would have wanted.
17. Early last summer, I bought a hat to wear in the sun. Because I’m not the type to adorn myself with athletic apparel *** I bought an actual hat, a move that has led some, I think, to deem me a little pretentious. But all I really wanted to do was keep the sun off my ears.
18. Before I wrote that Donnette is much smarter than me, and that’s probably still true. But then, it’s all in how you define smarts. I’ve got a much better memory, while she is far better at solving problems. Unless I win big on Jeopardy, hers will probably be the one that makes more money. ****
19. Four years ago, we had only recently begun trying to have kids. Now we have two. I don’t know if a couple is ever really ready to have kids, and I can’t say that we picked the best time in our lives to begin, but I do know that for all the everything in the world, I wouldn’t give either one of them back.
20. Avonlea loves my mom as much as I do. To me, this says all I need it to about my mother.
21. Back to cooking, I still love to try new things, and to cook big meals, and all that. But, being a dad who takes care of two kids all day means that most of my cooking isn’t chicken livers with white chocolate ***** but rather chili and grilled cheese. And I’m okay with that.
22. Avonlea’s first words were not “Go Gators!” She, like most babies, said “dada” first, followed by “mama” and then, “fish” if I recall correctly. However, she now proudly chomps for the Orange and Blue, and so does at least one little boy I know who had this misfortune of being born to UGA fans. ******
23. One of the things that freaked me out the most going into seminary was the language requirement. But, I found that if you study for a mere 8 hours a day, even Greek and Hebrew can become approachable languages. This is good news, as I need to master French, because if I don’t I won’t be graded, but I will be judged.
24. I’m a Presbyterian minister. It’s still a little hard to believe.
25. I never like to read my own writing. What seemed at the time to be clever and witty does, over time, make me want to smack my former self in the mouth. Which means, should I come back to this in a few years I probably won’t like this list anymore than I like the one I wrote four years ago. Hopefully, by that time, I won’t be too hard on my younger self.
– Well, there you go, 25 mostly new things. Thank you to you all for your prayers, and especially thank you to anyone and everyone who had anything to do with making last Sunday so special. It was a day I will never forget.
*Or maybe, more specifically, Donnette-having-a-baby related.
**Oliver’s baptism anyone?
***And because most baseball caps look like a yarmulke on my giant melon-sized head
****Also, because four years ago, Donnette did indeed hit herself square in the head with a car door.
*****Yes, this will be on the next menu, and yes, it will be delicious.
******He’s not unfortunate for being born to those parents, they’re wonderful people. It’s their preference for SEC second best that is unfortunate…