Friday, January 6, 2012

10 things i didn't expect in 2011

  1. I didn’t plan to break my arm (in three places) from a fall while jogging on January 4 — my first, and hopefully, only broken bone. Not the best start to the year. Recovery took three-plus focused months of immobilization and physical therapy. Couldn’t drive for a while, and then only my wife Connie’s car, the automatic. I think I am now over my childhood jealousy of kids who broke bones and got to wear casts.
  2. I did not see my job transition coming. In reverse, I now see evidence that a shift was perking. After years of holding on, the cord was severed and change accelerated.
  3. I didn’t know I’d become a free agent (self-employed, see above). I hope I’m not being reactive, but at this time, I have little interest in another full-time job with a singular commitment to a singular organization. I want new things. The cost may be heavy, but I have to try. I found new and renewed community as I connect with others who are operating somewhat off the grid. I continue to discover. I’m very thankful for the support of my wife, other family members and friends.
  4. I had no idea my social circles would shift so quickly. My former job ministering to students and young adults resulted in an unusual schedule and intense social interactions. One result was limited time and energy for peer relationships. The abrupt job shift allowed for reentry with friends from over the years and some new connections.
  5. Being honest, there was a second relational shift. While I was not surprised that “it” happened, the specifics were powerful. I know friends can turn on you, can attack and even abandon — been there, done that. But there is always a jolt when you observe the actual moment of long-time friends turning on you because of their own fear, greed or some other motivation. At the same time, I knew I had a great circle of friends and I thought they would be supportive. The reality is that they went beyond what I could have asked or dreamed. I have sensed the breath and hand of God through their varied acts of grace.
  6. Really, Tim Tebow. While I still don’t know if he can make it in the NFL long-term I’m shocked and amazed that he could win (so many) football games. And beyond the field, he has fueled a media firestorm creating a new place in the public square for the intersection of sports, faith and religion.
  7. I wasn’t planning on a member of my extended family coming out as transgender. I think it is fair to say that few, if any, in our family expected this revelation.
  8. Switching church families was not on the list of annual plans. For 30-plus years my work has defined and determined our church. No longer. New choices in a new day.
  9. I did not expect my favorite album would be The Long Surrender by Over the Rhine, which includes my current favorite song “All My Favorite People.” I should have seen this one coming. A highlight was sharing the song with a few friends at a summer gathering and then, in November, going to an Over the Rhine concert with the same friends and hearing the song near the end of the evening. A holy moment.
  10. I had no idea that I would be on the road so much. When the job transition became reality, Connie said something like, “You can do whatever you want, wherever you want and visit me at home whenever you can.” It was a joke…but not a joke. We’ve lived in Bellingham, Washington since the late 1970s and we love it. We love being near family and friends. We love the sense of place — our place — and have no desire to leave. As I begin to build my new work life, it appears it may involve a broad mix of connections in varied locations.  I do not expect we’ll move anytime soon, but if 2011 has taught me anything, it’s that I should hold loosely to my expectations!
May God have mercy on us all in the new year and for all of our days!


  1. Yours is one of the better appraisals of the year just past. I like its honesty and your frankness about expectations.

    Wishing you and yours the very best in 2012.

  2. Thanks maureen & a good new year to you as well.