As I sit down on New Year’s Day to type this out I think back on the year that has just passed. On one hand it seems like just yesterday I was writing this for 2018. On the other hand, however, that seems like eternity past.
Back in February of 2019 I had the opportunity to go to an Expository Preaching Conference by Dr. Steven Lawson of One Passion Ministries. (https://www.onepassionministries.org/) This was an excellent conference targeted to pastors and elders. I have heard much from Dr. Lawson this year as I have listened to his Men’s Bible Study on the book of Romans. There is a link to that from the website referenced. He also has a mobile app that has the link available. At Northwest Bible Church we have just finished up Dr. Lawson’s series on Foundations of Grace where he shows how the whole Bible teaches the Doctrines of Grace, including Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. I have also enjoyed listening to his Expositor podcast where he shares in about 5 minutes ways to minister to a congregation, primarily through expository preaching.
On the family front, it’s amazing to watch my children continue to grow up. Justin became our fourth homeschool graduate. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, I have been continuing to teach David to read. Paton is continuing to excel at his violin playing. Sarah has been taking piano lessons from a lady in our church, and is making great strides as well. Melody started in American Heritage Girls. (https://americanheritagegirls.org/) Paton, Samuel, and David are involved in Trail Life USA. (https://www.traillifeusa.com/) I am leading the “Foxes” (the kindergarten age where David participates). It has been fun, but challenging, to lead these youngest of Trailmen. After having hardly ever going camping for most of my life, (We went a handful of times as a family when I was a boy), I have been participating on a mostly monthly basis in campouts for the older Trail Life boys, including Paton and Samuel.
This year I have also been able to enjoy being a grandfather. I won’t share too many details on my grandchildren’s lives, because I feel it is their parents’ rights to determine how much to share online. I will say, though, that between all three of my married children I have four beautiful grandchildren. It is exciting to watch them grow, and I’m very happy to see my children and their spouses either actively homeschooling, or preparing in that direction as their children approach school age. It’s amazing to see the little “carbon copies” of my own children in my grandchildren. I see that in Brittney’s family and in Michael’s.
This year we got to try our second attempt at keeping chickens. Someone who was moving away gave us their chicken coop and two hens. Sarah wanted some ducks. So we bought three baby ducklings. Unfortunately, before we had the coop we had them in a cage, and a predator made off completely with one of them, and badly injured another. I never remember feeling so sad to have to kill a bird. But it tugs at the heartstrings of a daddy’s emotions to take the life of his little girl’s pet, even if it was the most ethical thing to do. The poor little duck had a broken leg and was in obvious pain. The last remaining one has acclimated to his two chicken friends. “Joey” is a big healthy duck now. The chickens, even though they are both hens, have been named Melissa and Doug, presumably after the creators of wooden toys that the kids enjoy.
The most significant development for me personally this year has been my employment/career scene. At the beginning of 2017 I was at Dolese. Though every job has its challenges, I had resolved within myself to remain content and stay at Dolese for the long haul. I have had many jobs throughout my working career. I really don’t enjoy the interview process and the onboarding process of a new job. Plus, as I had turned 50 at the end of 2018 I know that job seeking tends to become more of a challenge as the competition is cheaper, and more recently trained at their colleges and universities in the latest technologies. But the Lord had other plans for me in that arena. In March I was laid off from Dolese, along with two other coworkers. I still keep in touch with my favorite manager out there. Incidentally, I was not reporting to him when I was let go. That ended a three year, three month stint at a place that underwent several changes during my brief time there. I found out later that several more of my coworkers were let go. All of this was foreshadowed by the unexpected termination of the CIO back in May of 2018. She was a good leader, and a lady I enjoyed working for. It is sometimes hard to tell what a company is thinking when they get rid of so much of the talent and experience that they possess in such a short time frame. In any case, I wish them well and hope that, despite what I consider foolish choices in purging their workforce, they are able to keep from running this very old and established Oklahoma company into the ground. I enjoyed the experience while it lasted.
On May 1, I started employment at MidFirst bank. MidFirst is a good company. They almost seem “security conscience to a fault.” If you are a customer of MidFirst, you shouldn’t have to worry about viruses infecting their systems, as none of the developers have access to the internet on their work computers. This can make a day in the life of a software developer a bit of a challenge. Fortunately, they did allow me to bring my personal laptop with my hotspot on my cell phone. So, I was able to browse, unhindered, technical websites that helped me to do my job. Probably the most helpful programming site that I like to refer to is https://stackoverflow.com/ Anyway, in the Lord’s providence a position opened up at Delaware Nation Industries, a contracting company at Tinker Air Force base. This position was with the very same team that I had worked with previously from 2013-2014. When I went to the interview I sat in a room with three former colleagues and friends, along with the manager whom I had not met when I worked there the first time. We worked well together previously, and I knew it would be a good match once again. Though I felt a little remorse serving at MidFirst for only six months, and leaving my coworkers there with a massive project and an aggressive schedule, I hired on with DNI in November 2019. I believe it was September when I interviewed with them. But for a position that I was being hired for, there is quite a process involved prior to employment. My every intention at this point, is to continue in this position as long as I can, for many of the same reasons that I gave earlier. Not to mention that I have a great working relationship with the guys I knew previously. In hind sight, I believe that the position at DNI is a better opportunity than even what I had at Dolese. So, the Lord certainly had His plans that He was working out in my life, though it was difficult to see while walking through it. That is where faith comes into the picture. In the transition from MidFirst to DNI there were some questions regarding health benefits that caused us to explore other options to insure the family. I will say that MidFirst had very good benefits. Later I discovered that the benefits at DNI were actually a bit better than what I was originally led to believe due to a miscommunication early on. Walking through these issues presented their own challenges. All in all, I am satisfied in the way it worked out, and I look forward to pressing on in 2020 to help my new team at DNI to be successful in all our endeavors.
Things continue to go well at Northwest Bible Church. It is an honor to lead God’s people with the other two elders, Alan Conner and Alan Loeffler. I love our congregation. I have witnessed the joys of seeing new families coming to the church, the bittersweet emotions of talking to one of our elderly members just a few days before attending his funeral, rejoicing with the birth of children to our members, and so on. All of these experiences are common to all members in the church. But seeing it all from the perspective of an elder in the church has been a real blessing. As time goes on I more and more appreciate Reformed Theology. Reformed Theology is simply biblical theology. I hope to continue reading more and continuing to grow in faith in 2020.