Now that the holidays are finally over, I have found a few minutes to update the old blog. Actually, I'm avoiding the long list of things I need to get after today in the office, but wanted to get things updated on here. I've had several thoughts of what to post here in the new year, but I figured I'll just offer a few random thoughts. The holiday foray lasts a little longer for the Metzes as we have managed to cram as many significant events in a short amount of time as possible: December 18 we celebrated our 9 year anniversary (even writing it now, doesn't seem possible), December 25 - duh, then the New Year (a.k.a. stay in pjs and watch football all day), and, just to get one more week's worth of planning and festivities in - Clark's birthday is Jan. 7 - Wednesday! So . . . next week EVERYTHING will finally be back to normal. Clark's going to be 4 - amazing.
I thought I might look back at last year and process some of the excitement that was 20o8. Major events seemed to occur on just about all counts:
In the family: there's no doubt our biggest event was finding out we'll be having our third little runt running around (due in about 7 weeks now). Mary Beth and I both felt as though one more baby would complete our family and God has once again been good to us with fertility and, so far, another relatively smooth pregnancy (easy for me to say!) Clementine had a run-in with a pretty nasty infection around her birthday last year that gave us a bit of a run - really our most serious health "crisis" to date - we ended up in urgent care. Other highlights were our trip to Cleveland for our fourth Opening Day event - probably our smoothest to date. Later, in May, we took Clark on the biggest surprise of his life when we watched the Indians get mauled by the Rangers, stayed the night in Cleveland, and then went to Day out with Thomas. (Thomas the Tank Engine rules at our house). I took Clark to his first "official" Ohio State football game (he went to two games when he was just a baby) at the Youngstown St. blowout - the big news of that game was Beanie Wells' injury.
On vacation: We had two great vacations last year. About a year ago we were anticipating our cheap flight down to Miami, FL - thanks to the now bankrupt Skybus airways. We sure are glad we got it when we did. We had a great week spent with our friends in Miami, at the beach, in the everglades, and then capped it off with three great days in Key West. It was a fantastic trip we'll always remember. Mary Beth and I took an early 10 year anniversary trip (a year early, but we're anticipating having trouble finding babysitters for 3 kids this year for our actual 10 years) in Maine. We stayed at a quiet bed and breakfast near Acadia National Park across the harbor from Bar Harbor. We had an amazing trip looking at some of the most incredible scenery I've ever seen. We even made an unexpected, but fortunate, trip to New Brunswick on Campbello Island - a really neat place I would highly recommend to anyone. It was a great week to get away with my wife.
On the job: We had a rather tumultuous year on the job - positive and negative tumults. The year started off with some major challenges as we had to fire my co-minister. He had just started working with us less than a year previous and the situation was never positive. He had misrepresented himself and reaped what he had sown. It was a learning experience for our congregation, our eldership, and, most especially for me. I admired our elders leading us through an especially difficult time and believe that we will be better for having lived through it in the end. However, enduring the process has no doubt tested the patience and faith of our members. Once some time had passed, and after extensive talks with our elders, my role changed a bit in October and we have brought on one of our members in part-time capacity to work alongside me. My title is now Family Life Minister, and while I maintain my focus on teenagers, I also now have an expanded role working alongside my co-minister planning our Sunday events, establishing a leadership framework, and doing whatever else comes along. The situation is a bit of a stretch for some, and I am doing my best to learn as we go each day.
A more exciting reality for our professional lives has been Mary Beth's venture as director of the new Alum Creek Preschool. Her hard year's work has paid off, and the preschool opened in September. It is a part-time program with three teachers and enrollment now around 30 children. The school meets on Mondays - Thursdays from 9:00 - 12:00. It has made our roll at the church even more complex as we now serve as preschool director, preschool parents (Clark is in the 3 year old class), preschool-church liason, and countless other roles.
On a personal level: I hope that 2008 was a year that I have become a better dad, husband, and friend. Those are truly immeasureable roles, and undoubtedly I have grown in areas - and shrank in others! The role as dad becomes increasingly more complicated by the day. Having a third child to be responsible for this year scares me even more! Finding time to be a husband through all of this is even more of a challenge. Through the year, my relationship with Mary Beth is more challenged than anything. We have to work so hard to see each other, and talk, and maintain and actual relationship - being married to the best woman in the world helps me out there alot!
I set personal goals to read more books and I have found time to do that (not having a newborn helped there alot! - we'll see that lag again this year). I also hoped to blog more regularly and I have found 2008 to be better served there as well. I have in the back of my mind plans to work towards my D. Min. degree, but time and finances continue to be an issue. I continue to be interested in Fuller Seminary, but have accepted that to be a far-reaching plan.
I have also continued to work towards becoming a better minister, professionally. Having our children with us, and with the preschool opening, I have Clementine by myself in the mornings, has tested my efforts of time management and organization. I press on and hope to improve in those areas this year. THere is a great need for improvement there. I have maintained relationships with only friend I've met through benevolence at the church this year - he was the first to call me on Christmas morning - and I'd really like to see that area of my life improve as well. I joined the Family Promise board in Delaware looking to open homeless beds in Delaware County - which will be a tenable effort.
The political scene of 2008 has gone a great dinstance in solifiying my pacifist positions. I got a bit sucked into the political season and it led to a time of reconsidering. One of my elders offered me a book that has challenged some of those presuppositions and has helped me think through some of the more challenging aspects of my opinions (thanks, Curt), and it has helped confirm to me much of that perspective. Academically, I feel as though I have grown in that area as much as any. Shane Claiborne & Chris Haw's book Jesus for President helped lead me in that area a great deal. I was most challenged in 2008 by my reading of Miroslav Volf's The End of Memory and have found a new theological mentor. I began Exclusion and Embrace, but will have to eat some more Wheaties and try again this year to really delve into it. The End of Memory really challenged the intersection of practice and theory in dealing with enemies for me. It was just great!
Spiritually, 2008 was a very challenging year. While I found renewed vigor in my academic pursuits, prayerfully and biblically, I continue to wrestle to find peace and quiet and solitude. I feel as though I have had four challenging years re-inventing this all-encompassing area of my life since Clark was born. I do not believe that spirituality is a part of life, but the whole of it, however, part of that spiritual life is maintaining the spiritual disciplines in rooting my faith - and that, frankly, continues to be a struggle. Prayer, especially, is a constant challenge. I continue to recover from the truncated prayer-life I was taught growing up, and the total absence of a family prayer life. Without that example and experience to pull from - leading my own family in that is especially a challenge. Following a friends suggestion, we have recently begun reciting both the Shema and the Lord's Prayer with our children before bed each night. That renewed emphasis has been a breath of fresh air that I hope will spill into my own spiritual fervor. My passion and desire for Scripture is higher than it's been in awhile. I hope in 2009 to find more time to sit and meditate as the Psalmist of the 119 Psalm does. I continue to look for his incredible desire for the Word in my own life. I prayerfully and humbly move on knowing the incredible need for growth in this area.
Well . . . if you've hung on this long reading this post, you've probably seen more about me than you've ever wanted to. A few words on the blog. I again hope to give the Supermetz blog added attention and time as the year procedes. I foresee a major facelift as I glance through some of the new tools available. It has been a neat tool to meet some new people - a few of you I've know for a long time and I appreciate you stopping by regularly to check out the thoughts here. Those of you who are new, I also appreciate whatever common cord I've seem to struck with you. I have added the feature in recent months to better track who visits here and how often they stop by and how they got here, and all that (the series of the Truth Project has added some additional traffic to be sure - I will probably be seeing the final three videos beginning next week, so I'll try to post on those).
I'd also like to see the blog become more dialogue-driven, but I understand the extra time that takes for everyone, so we'll just see what happens. I remain committed to commenting here regularly, as it proves to be theratpeutic for me . . . this post has especially prepared me for the New Year of excitement that awaits. Godspeed to everyone, and may this year be a year of blessings to all!
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