I’m not much on writing retrospectives, given that the events of my life don’t mean much to anyone but me and those who are closest to me, but the truth is that 2008 proved to be quite a significant year in the lives of my family members and me and so, well, here comes a retrospective, albeit a brief one.
We lost some significant people during 2008. Debra’s nephew Mike died suddenly and unexpectedly, my stepmother Imogene passed away, and three of my father’s siblings, Aunt Myrtice, Uncle Jack, and Uncle Bobby died.
And Dr. Giddens died, too. Dr. Howard P. Giddens was our professor at Mercer University who became my mentor but he also became much more than that; for all intents and purposes he became, following the death of my father in 1979, my father and he served as a second father to Debra as well. In his 97 years he served as pastor, professor, and guide to countless numbers of ministers as well as to normal folks. He taught me much about living and toward the end he also taught me about dying; never have I seen anyone move toward the conclusion of his earthly sojourn with more grace than Dr. Giddens exhibited.
We also experienced loss in moving away from Augusta and The Hill Baptist Church. We enjoyed our years living in Augusta and we very much miss the good people who are so vital to the fellowship at The Hill. Debra misses her colleagues at Augusta State, too. One of the prices she has paid for being my wife has been that when I have felt called to go elsewhere she has had to leave jobs that she enjoyed and people with whom she loved working; that was certainly the case in her leaving the Biology Department at ASU. We left a great house in Augusta, too—a great house that is still for sale if anyone is interested!
But 2008 has been a year of great gains as well. For one thing, our daughter Sara has finished the requirements for her degree at Mercer University and she will in a few weeks begin an internship at Disney World in Orlando; she is as excited as we are pleased. For another thing, our son Joshua began work toward a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Georgia College and State University; that is a vital step in his formation and in his life journey.
We have also been blessed by our move to Fitzgerald, Georgia. We are excited about the possibilities that are so obviously present at First Baptist Church where I now serve as pastor. We have already met a tremendous number of fine folks and I have been greatly encouraged by the response to the beginning of my ministry here. Our house here (yes, we presently have two houses—did I mention that the one in Augusta is for sale?) already feels like home and we are enjoying being in it. The small town life is something that both Debra and I appreciate and we look forward to the relationships that we will develop here over the years.
I also gained a year in age, which is true of everybody else, too, but this year I hit the big number 50. My good wife lessened the impact by treating me to a marvelous trip to Disney World. We had a great time celebrating with Mickey and the gang.
While 2008 has been a momentous year it has on balance been a good one. In all things, the good and bad, the gain and loss, the happy and sad, we give thanks to God who has been with us in it all.