This year was too full.

Squeezed a whole decade of major ups and downs into one 12-month period.

Very grateful about the good things:

My wife Wendy’s mom, over in the Netherlands, is doing much better for the first time in a long time. For much of the first part of this year she was headed downhill fast. With some diagnosis shifts, she made a major corner turn. She even answered (in Dutch) “PRIMA!” to Wendy’s asking how she was doing.

Son Lars (22) is doing better than ever. Has trimmed down significantly. Works at Albertson’s right up the street, where he has been for a long time. Taking classes at Orange Coast College. Getting very interested in Philosophy. The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree…

2011 saw a huge vocational breakthrough with my landing a whole new career, along with Roger Marsh, as co-host of The Bottom Line on KBRT radio 740 AM here in Los Angeles. Monday thru Friday from 3 to 5pm. Listen in on global streaming from anywhere. It’s a Current Events and Christian Lifestyle show.

While doing (extensive) research for the show, I have decided to say goodbye to the two big traditional political parties. I have become a convinced Libertarian. I see a need to help end the welfare/warfare state. Almost everything could be privatized. Another thing that pushed me over the edge was getting audited by the IRS (which I sailed thru but cost me weeks of my time). A Libertarian is just a conservative who has been audited :-). The Founding Fathers never intended for the federal government to control our education, health care, marketplace, agriculture, and energy policy. Nor did they intend for us to rule a global empire with 600-1,100 major military bases abroad.

After a rough 2010/2011 Winter respiratory infection, I took my health in my own hands and lost a lot of weight. Have been hovering around 25 BMI for months now. Am also working on flexibility, range of motion, and breathing, very proactively, with almost-daily gym workouts targeting these problem areas. Pilates is the nastiest workout ever invented. Only Germans could come up with anything so lacking in fun. But it works.

After a lean 2011 financial year through the Fall (after quitting many things to focus on three vocations–see below), our finances have taken a major turn for the better. We made it thru the Great Recession, which has been brutal in California. Praise God.

June saw the most pivotal spiritual time in my life, to date. I was in London at a board meeting for Alpha, staying with good friends Kim and Penelope Swithinbank. Volunteered to help out putting on a huge event for Pentecost at the O2 Center in Greenwich. To make a long story short, I got worked over by a Nigerian prayer team. I am still processing what happened there. Let’s just say I cannot account for 90 minutes of that evening. At all.

A couple of days later, I flew to Israel, landing at Ben Gurion Airport at 3:30am realizing that I had made no plans for my 72-hour stay. So I rented a car and took off…

Ended up at the Western Wall of the Jerusalem temple mount at dawn. Got drawn into a small group of super-serious Orthodox Jews who threw a cap on me, brought me up to the wall, prayed over me and left me to encounter the Sacred on my own.

Had another huge transcendental experience where time disappeared. Received a message to focus on three things: Robinwood, Radio, and Writing. And to let everything else go. Revolutionary for me and hard to process. So, in frustration, I left the city and had my third, and most profound spiritual experience in a week, in Tsfat of Galilee. See my essay on that third experience here.

Published my first novel in June. The Blackberry Bush continues to sell well. It’s a short-list finalist for the Inspy awards for fiction and still in the running for a (long shot) Pulitzer. Do you have your copy yet? Amazon or Barnes and Noble…

Enjoyed our young adults group from church–a real bright spot in ministry. Wendy and I have especially appreciated Lindsey Trego’s “adoptive daughter” status in our family.

Hard things that happened this year, in the midst of which I found things for which to be thankful:

After years of contention, I finally got voted off the island by the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). Fought to stay in, but the organization is becoming organizationally legalistic, ueber-PC, and not very tolerant of outspoken theological conservatives like me. SILVER LINING: Thankful that I am now totally free to craft my teaching and build community around it. Didn’t realize how constricting it had been.

Wendy had a hospitalization a few months ago with a super-blocked carotid artery. Quite a scare. We are working on ways to maximize the situation going forward. SILVER LINING: We are so thankful to the chiropractor who discovered the problem.

A freak rainstorm hit while we were replacing the roof at Robinwood Church here in Huntington Beach. We lost almost everything.  Set us back for weeks and took our focus off of ministry. SILVER LINING: We are back in business with new carpet. Looks sharp. And we pulled together as a church to clean up and repair.

We had an especially rough personal time this year, when a young pregnant woman asked us to adopt her baby. We being 50 years old, this was a huge deal and we struggled with the decision. She changed her mind right before the birth. We had one day that was the biggest roller coaster of our lives. SILVER LINING: Our marriage came out more loyal and stronger than ever.

Thus we give thanks for some great things, but also “in” all things, whether they are great or not…

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