Monthly Review: December, 2013

The Himalayan range at Yumesongdong in Sikkim,...

The Himalayan range at Yumesongdong in Sikkim, in the Yumthang River valley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I write, I am eating M&Ms from a plastic candy-cane shaped container and drinking a Shiner FM966, a seasonal brew.  Together these comprise my lunch.  It’s the first day of the new year.  So, naturally, as I write and nibble and sip I wonder if perhaps I’ve grown a little lazy in my personal disciplines, if perhaps I should resolve to exercise a little more in 2014, to eat a little less.  My physique ain’t what it was when I was twenty, after all.  And Lent will soon be here.

Maybe some of this feeling stems from watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty yesterday on the big screen.  Excellent flick, by the way, one of the true feel-good movies of the year.  It expresses a clear Christian message too, that the proud will be brought low and the humble will be lifted up.  I encourage you to watch it.  Anyway, Mr. Mitty is 42 years old; and he’s sat at a desk job for the last sixteen years.  Yet somehow he has the physical prowess to skateboard down a twisty road in Iceland and hike to elevations greater than 18,000′ in the Himalayas.  On the one hand I think, yeah, right!  But on the other hand I used to do things like this, and I know I couldn’t now, and I’m nostalgic, reminiscent of my twenty-year-old body.  So I console myself that maybe I’ll still take my kids backpacking in the Needle Mountains of Colorado like I’ve always wanted to do.  A goal like that could be just the catalyst to get me back in shape and off the M&Ms.

More to the point, it’s the end of another month, and so I write another blog post to reflect over my progress as a priest.  But it’s also the end of the year.  So I’m thinking back not just over the past month but the past year too–and beyond, as you may have guessed from the above paragraphs.  The year of 2013 was a big one for me.  I was ordained to the diaconate on Dec. 28, 2012, just before the year began.  Then: in April I turned forty-five, in May I graduated from seminary (and moved from Tennessee back to San Antonio), in June I began my first ordained post as a curate, in July I was ordained to the priesthood, and in September I celebrated twenty years of marriage to the best woman ever.  As I said, big year!

December was significant in my ministry journey for several reasons, some of which I’ve blogged about.  But the particular focus for the month–the thing I want to remember in the future–is that this is the month when we tipped the balance financially.  That is, up until December we were increasing our indebtedness each month.  But in December two important events took place.  One is that we sold a house we’ve owned since 2003.  What a burden lifted!  Not to mention the money received almost compensated for debt accrued since our move in May!  The other is that Holly (the best woman ever) took on yet another job, effectively tipping the scale.  It’ll be tight, but we can actually make ends meet now.

The flipside of this homefront coin is that we will have to adjust to basic household management.  One more job for Holly means that much more complexity regarding household logistics–which, I hope you can begin to imagine, are already overly full with five kids in the mix.

Which brings me back to how I started this post, doesn’t it?  It’s one thing to be in good enough shape to hike above 18,000′ when you’re single, without kids, working enough to make ends meet but not much more, meaning with significant time off for my outdoor pursuits.  Now the question is how to do it with five kids, one in college, another just about to be, and the three-times (minimum) daily shuttle service Holly and I provide.  Perhaps 2014 will be the year I find the answer.  And if I do, you can be sure I’ll write a book, because (I have a feeling anyway) such would be a goldmine: the answer to a key question for parents of third-millennium American kids.

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