Monday, January 02, 2012

Top Ten Memories of 2011

This is Abigail's favorite post I make every year, and this is my tenth year to make one of these lists.  I know that  globally, 2011 was kind of a turbulent year.  This was a year of transition for us as well.   Two major things really gave this year a transitive feel.  First, this year we got to watch Connor transition from baby to boy.  At the beginning of the year, Connor barely knew 20 words and could not walk.  At the end of the year Connor knew well over 100 words, is beginning to talk in complete sentences, and runs everywhere.

The other big transition we faced this year was Abigail switching jobs from teaching to being a case manager for people with special needs.  Due to this transistion, this year really feels like two different years, with the first six months being one year and the second being the other year.  Despite having that odd feeling, it has still only been one year and here are the top ten memories I will have from this year.

10.  The Society of Crime Fighters
 While this is related to Gen Con, I think that this deserves its own entry.  I really enjoy being a game master in role playing games.  I love creating the back bone of a story and then work cooperatively with players to create the story.  Despite enjoying this, up until this year I had not done this since 2001.  At Gen Con this year, I signed up to run an RPG event.  I found  a neat system and came up with a pulp superhero adventure. The players were heroes who were conscripted by the government to investigate a Nazi experiment to create wolf-human hybrid super soldiers.  Leading up to Gen Con I ran through the adventure with two groups to practice and refine it.  The actual adventure went great and I had a blast. I think from now on, running a game at Gen Con is going to be something I try to do every year.

9.   Gen Con 2011
Gen Con really is one of the absolute highlights of my year.  Other than running the RPG, there were a couple of other things that made this a good Gen Con. First, this was the second time Abigail came with me.  We got to do a lot together and we even spent the night downtown.  Second, I got to meet up with one of my friends and college room mates during the event and that was cool.  Finally, I got to meet Tom Vasel, who hosts a podcast that Abigail and I listen to every week.

8.  Christmas
This Christmas will be a strong memory for a couple of reasons.  First on Christmas morning when Connor was going through his stocking he found a Thomas and Friends DVD.  The look of surprise and excitement was so great, so genuine, and so perfect.  It was the first time I have ever seen him have that kind of happy surprise.  The second reason was since Christmas was on a Sunday this year, I was asked to do a children's message during the service.  During this time, Connor came running up the center aisle shouting "daddy" the entire time.  This spontaneous act of love and affection will always be with me and was unbelievably cute.
7.  Nerf War Lock In
We did this at church last year, but I think this year was even more fun and incredibly epic.  For example, here is  a story from that night:  We were playing a game type where one team had to defend a bomb for 10 minutes and the other team had to defuse it.  Once a person was shot they were out.  We planted the bomb in the church basement kitchen. This location had a window and only one entrance making it very defensible.  A small group protected the kitchen, while the majority held the stairs.  Even though we were being attacked from both sides.  We were holding.  I was in the kitchen, and it was crazy.  Nerf darts were flying in as a dozen or so kids were shooting in to it.  Our medic was in the kitchen and he kept healing the defenders.  Eventually, we lost the stairs and the majority of the team was taken out.  I was hit and went down.  The medic healed me, and was then shot.  I had not gotten up yet and Nerf darts kept coming in to the kitchen.  My gun was empty and all of clips were used up.  All I had was single shot hold out blaster.  The general for the other team came into the kitchen.  I shot him.  As he dropped to his knees he said "I thought you were dead!" to which I could only respond "Not yet."  At which point I was shot twice and then the alarm went off signally the bomb had exploded.  Absolutely epic!

6.  Canoe Trip
One of the things we do every summer with the youth group is take a fun trip.  This year we went caving and canoeing in southern Indiana.  The Caving portion was a special group only spelunking tour that was a lot of fun.  It was mainly creek stomping through a cave with a small crawling portion.  The Canoe part was a seven mile trek down the Blue River.  I had not been canoeing since I worked at Cave Country Canoes when I was seventeen.  I find Canoeing down a river fun.  Even though I know that at this point hundreds of thousands of people have been down that same stretch of river there is still a sense of exploration and adventure. I would be really interested to canoe elsewhere at some point.    One fun part of this canoeing is that three of the canoes engaged in a race.  One of the canoes cut off the other, which caused them to turn into my canoe.  However, we did not change course, and we had enough speed that when we hit the side of their canoe we jostled them enough to cause the canoe to tip.

5.  Mission Trip
As I think I mentioned last year,  I think that as long as I work with a youth group that takes trips  then they will be on the list.  This year the youth group went to Huntsville, Alabama.  This year was also really special for me because we got to work with two friends from college.  This trip was a big lesson in flexibility for all I think.  A couple of weeks before we were to come, our main contact with an organization we were working with quit.  This meant things were thrown together at the last minute but it worked.  I think that every day we were doing exactly what we needed to do.  The best part was the youth from Avon got to work side by side with the youth from Gurley UMC.  The kids from these two churches were worlds apart, and it was excellent to watch the teens get over their own assumptions, biases, and comfort zones.  By the end of the week their was genuine acceptance and unity among teens who at the beginning of the week would have been hard pressed to associate with one another.  It was once again a good week.

4.  Vacation
Abigail started her new job on June 29th.  Because she started before July 1st, she was entitled to one week of vacation before the end of the year.  She took off the first week in November.  We did some stuff around the area like taking Connor to the Columbus Children's museum.  However, on Thursday night we dropped Connor off with my parents and then spent all day Friday and Saturday together without Connor.  This is the longest time we have spent together without Connor since he has born.  On Friday we split the day.  I planned the first half and Abigail planned the second. For my part, we went to the Incredible Pizza company.  This is like a Ci-Ci's combined with a super Dave and Busters.  We had a lot of fun doing duck pin bowling and go karts.  For Abigail's part we went to Lafayette.  While there she let me get a random game from a game store, took me to a diner with good hamburgers and awesome root beer, and then took me to a wolf park for "howl night."  On Saturday we headed back to Indianapolis to play board game with friends.  I love Connor dearly, but it was refreshing to spend an extended amount of time with just Abigail.
3. Camp
  While I technically directed camp several years ago, the camp I directed then only had like 20 some people. In 2011 I co-directed camp with two other local youth directors and our camp had 105 kids.  Even though it was the hottest week of the summer it was still a great week of camp.  My primary responsibility was camp activities, and one of my major functions was the all camp games.  I am very pleased that several of the camp staff let me know that the games we had were the best of the summer.  The best game we played was a "water balloon revolutionary war."  Over a hundred kids marched in formation and maneuvered around a field  throwing water balloons at each other.  It was really a great sight to behold.  It was a great and powerful week of camp, and we are already beginning to plan for next year.

2.  Walk to Emmaus
  This year I took part on the Walk to Emmaus.  To not lessen the impact of a walk for someone who may do it in the future, I will not give many details about what happened over the weekend.  However, I can say why this was meaningful for me.  I have a astigmatism which makes my vision blurry.  When I go to the eye doctor it is always amazing how they apply the lens to correct the blurriness.  Everything just comes into focus and clears up.  The walk was like applying this lens.  It really helped focus my faith and clear the blurriness that had begun to form around the edges.   The second thing that Emmaus really did for me is that the experience affirmed my call to ministry more powerfully than any other experience I had previously had.  While I do feel called to ministry I left the Walk with that call fully affirmed and I believe that affirmation has really made a difference in my ministry over the past couple of months as I have had a  greater confidence in it.

1.  Game Day
In the middle of November there was an all day Game Day at the church. For twelve hours we played games and 80 some people came to participate in it.  The Game Day was a lot of fun, but this entry is really a stand in for the every other week game night.  The Game On! Game Night started in February of 2011.  Every other week this year the game group has met.  Since graduating college, I have greatly desired something like this game day.  A chance to hang out with other people, doing something I enjoy, and making friends.  I am so happy that this actually got off the ground and has been very successful, and it really is the highlight of 2011 for me.


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