It's gone quickly, 2014. And it's been full. It's almost impossible to reflect accurately on all my memories from this past year, but journaling and digital pictures helped me document some key experiences. Experiences I want to hold on to. Experiences filled with God's faithfulness and people I love.
If you care to scroll, here are some pictorial moments from this past year.
Helping lead the memorial service for fallen soldier, Staff Sgt. Jesse Lee Williams was humbling. What an honor to celebrate his too-brief life and give tribute to his selfless sacrifice for family, friends and country.
Celebrating Jesus, remembering His ultimate sacrifice and life was the right way to begin a year of weekend services at our church, Granger Community Church.
We saw 109 inches of snowfall last winter - South Bend's 5th highest in history. Our daughter, Liv (those are her glowing eyes) and her then boyfriend (now, fiancé), Jacob Alexander dug out a cozy snow cave in our front yard in January 2014.
January 10, 2014 was my wife, Laura's final radiation treatment. With chemo complete the prior November, her treatment for breast cancer was finally complete! What an inspiring Warrior and example of trust in our Creator.
Laura and I enjoyed a week north of Cabo with some dear friends in January. God's creation is evident in Michiana, but the sunsets over the Sea of Cortez are unparalleled.
In late January I had the privilege of working through my LifePlan with the master and my good friend, Doug Slaybaugh. Clarifying. Challenging. So, so helpful.
Food Drop 2014 was a memorable day with hundreds of GCC folks distributing thousands of pounds of food to thousands of hungry people across Michiana. Always special to share this serve with my family (Liv, Jacob and Laura).
Yes, thanks to our good friends Kent and Becky Bontreger, Laura and I discovered the delicacy of candied bacon. OMB (Oh my bacon).
In March we were invited to work with Milton Keynes Christian Center in the UK. Billy and Nicola Ritchie were premier hosts (along with Mark and Alison Sherratt and Emily Brake). What a thrill to see God's work through MKCC!
Exploring London with Laura was extraordinary. Tea? Again? Yes, please.
Literally bumped into long-time friend, John Roberts, in London (John lives in WA)! Loved catching up!
Discovering VooDoo Doughnuts was only one of many highlights while visiting w/our friends, Jack and Elijah Magruder (Sami and Perry also! - not pictured) in Portland, OR this spring.
Laura participated in two runs this year to fight breast cancer. Thanks to our friends Ken, Albert, Kim and others who donated to this worthy cause and participated with us!
Liv and Jacob both turned 21 this year. Finishing school soon, engaged... all grown up. Love these two!
Witnessing Lily and Jake's baptism and assisting hundreds more publicly declare their decision to follow Jesus was - and always is - a highlight of God's grace at GCC.
Laura got a new puppy - Izzy - this summer. This particular day was one of several in God's great nature in our area.
Although this past year has been more challenging than the year of treatment, Laura's persistent faith has encouraged me and inspired thousands. God is so good.
Trips to Lake Michigan refresh our souls - any time of the year.
We moved Liv and Jacob into college again this fall - their SENIOR year! (No seniors were hurt in the process.)
The Stray Dog Cafe in New Buffalo with this hottie was a memorable way to wrap up summer.
Time out for everyone - including me - to snap a smartphone Instagram photo! What fun to help my niece, Stef and her man, Casey make their marriage vows in Indy.
Highlight read of the year: John Ortberg's Soul Keeping. If you haven't, do.
GCC's Breakthrough series featuring Rick Warren's Transformed journal and group-up guides was a catalyst of change as thousands took next steps toward Jesus! (Yes - this Mark Beeson's journal.)
Notes like this one from Liv make me thank God over and over for the rich relationship we share.
This Fall had to be one of the most spectacular displays of God's rich color - in years!
The Lasting Hope with front man, Logan Oakes, played just north of us this fall. What a great show!
Kercher's is a fall tradition we began when we moved to the area 17 years ago. Always a memory-maker with the family!
Navy Pier, Intellegentsia Coffee and my fav people made Chicago a perfect get-away day this fall.
One of the many reasons I was attracted to Laura in our high school years - she's always at the center of FUN! Celebrating her birthday with some of her family was a special reminder of the gift she is.
We discovered Pinecrest Christmas Tree Farm in Galien, MI - Score!
THIS happened! We couldn't be more thrilled that Jacob proposed to Liv this December! Yes. She said "yes." When Liv was an infant in our arms, we began praying for the young man she would marry. Answered prayer.
Experiencing Christmas Eve services at both our Granger and Elkhart campuses brought rich meaning to our family's joy, celebrating Jesus Christ. Over 9,100 people joined us this year!
What a gracious, God-filled year! Trusting Him for what's next, convinced that a year from now will be a reflection of new graces and generosity from our Father.
Happy New Year!