fireworksAs I write this, our boys sleep peacefully undisturbed (so far) by the sound of neighborhood fireworks heralding 2013’s arrival. Much has happened in Stringerland in the past 365 days since last New Year’s Eve. Perhaps the question is not, what has changed? but what hasn’t?

For starters, there is a new person in our family. On November 23 we welcomed Andre Wing Yee Stringer, whose middle name means “eternal virtue.” Andre’s cuddly 22-inch presence makes him an unrivaled celebrity whose birth eclipses all other family news for the year. But plenty of transitions were underway even before Andre made his grand entrance.

2012 saw a new school for our kindergartener Theo, a new job for Rebecca, a new job for myself and a new church family for all of us. After 7 years in social services with intermittent roles in bi-vocational ministry, I began my first full-time pastoral ministry position in September. We shifted gears from an older, mainline congregation in a high church tradition to a larger evangelical congregation full of families and children. I went from a federal job in social (but still spiritual) work to a local church position in spiritual (but still social) work. My paychecks no longer come from your taxes; they now come from your tithes!

2012 was also a year of new discoveries and learning experiences for me personally. I visited 7 churches in 9 days, attended a lecture by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and completed 4 seminary courses in through Fuller online (Pentateuch, Christian Ethics, OT Writings, Systematic Theology). I also discovered something they call tweeting in June and haven’t looked back. After much deliberation and apprehension, I took the plunge on my first ever smartphone—and love it!

Other wonderful things I discovered in 2012 included the joy of swimming beneath Waimea Falls, the taste of souvlaki, the voice of Paula Fuga, the songwriting of Marty Haugen, the theological mind of Wolfhart Pannenberg, the practice of Election Day Communion, the Ecclesia Leadership podcast, and some show called The Wire. Oh, and it didn’t hurt that my favorite baseball team won the World Series.

If 2010 was a year of searing loss and 2011 was dominated by grief, 2012 was a year of fresh beginnings. It’s not that we’ve finished grieving or that new experiences necessarily equal better ones. But it does mean we’re still growing, still trying, still kicking. Maybe all my dreams didn’t die with Vincent.

Maybe God’s hope has surrounded us all along.

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