2016 End of Year Reflection

I can honestly say that 2016 has been one of the most productive years of my adult life. It was the first full year in my 40’s and it was full of rewarding and humbling moments. I began the year with high expectations and I end the year with confidence knowing that I accomplished much of what I desired. One of the biggest things from 2016 that I have experienced was a great sense of loss. This came from the untimely death of my beloved nephew Kevin Neal, Jr. and the deaths of so many people who had a grand part in fashioning my youth and young adult development.

Like many persons at the end of the year, I take a moment and reflect on the totality of the year. There is a wonderful exercise that I have been using to accomplish this. I’ll share this year’s with you. How wonderful it is to know I’ve come this far by faith and God’s grace and have yet a ways to go. I’m grateful for all the people, places, and experiences I been graced to have in 2016. As John Newton writes in the third stanza of Amazing Grace ” Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come. T’was grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me on.”

10 Highlights (Accomplishments, Best Memories)

  1. Passing Doctoral Qualifying Exam and becoming an official doctoral candidate
  2. Serving as a presenter at the Black Non-Believers 5th Anniversary Celebration
  3. Serving as a Delegate to the 50th Quadrennial General Conference and 200th Anniversary of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
  4. Being appointed the new Dean of Ministerial Instruction for the South Mississippi Conference Board of Examiners
  5. Becoming a Spokesperson for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense and Survivors Engagement Lead for Everytown for Gun Safety
  6. Lobbying with Clergy for Prison Reform
  7. Lobbying at US Capital with National Council of Churches
  8. Attending Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE)National Pastor’s Policy Summit
  9. Celebrating five years as pastor of New Bethel AME Church of Jackson
  10. Joining a local community choir

 Disappointments (Failures, Missed Opportunities)

  1. Not spending enough time with my nephew Kevin before he passed
  2. Not maintaining regular spiritual discipline
  3. Not going to the gym consistently
  4. Not promoting book, ministry and radio show
  5. Indecisive about romantic relationships
  6. Not making time for self
  7. Not traveling for pleasure
  8. Not managing finances well
  9. Not reading more
  10. Not aggressively ministering to youth and young adults at the church

3 Game Changers (Unexpected Events that shifted my priorities)

  1. Being featured in the upcoming Exodus documentary
  2. Getting back in school and passing my DQE, attending Residency II in Atlanta, and beginning the journey of writing my dissertation
  3. Church Promotion and exposure in local and regional media outlets

3 Things I focused on (What I put the most of my time into

  1. Gun Safety and Advocacy
  2. Criminal Justice reform
  3. Returning to doctoral program and completing my dissertation

3 Things I forgot (What I didn’t get around to)

  1. Self Care-poor diabetes management and little rest and didn’t journal consistently
  2. Complete writings I started
  3. Didn’t engage my creative side-didn’t compose music or write enough poem
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Another Year is Dawning

Another year is dawning, Dear Father let it be, in working or in waiting, another year with Thee: Another year of progress another year of praise another year of proving Thy presence all the days. Another year of service, of witness for thy love; another year of training, for holier work above. Another year is dawning, dear Father let it be, on earth, or else in heaven, another year with Thee. Frances R. Havergal

As 2014 comes to an end, there will be scores of parties, reflections, and of course resolutions. Many will focus on becoming their ideal self in 2015. For this writer, 2015 will be a major coming of age event. In 2015 I turn the big 40. It will officially begin my mid-life crisis era. I will have that eternal excuse for any bad impulsive decision I make after I turn 40. Yes, it may be just the year my true life of excitement begins and that of dullness ends.

Like many at the close of a year, I’ve reflected on the achievements I have had. I’ve help plant a church in Pakistan, met some phenomenal people, got elected to a position in my denomination’s connectional young adult ministry, and experienced a number of other accomplishments. I did experience some disappointments and circumstances that I wish could have been avoided or prevented but I have come out of them on the side of victory and gratefulness. 2014 was has been the year that I’ve had to learn that some relationships just have to come to an end. I’ve also learned the value of being disciplined in body and spirit even when I was resisting doing so.

One thing that I will not take into 2015 is an attitude of defeat. I will enter the next year with an ambitious attempt to gird my loins with the knowledge and strength of the ancestors and forge a path towards greater liberation. I will engage the fear, doubt, and anything else that may come my way in 2015. I’ve had plenty of time during 2014 to question my ministry and purpose and still have a bit of sanity left. That was the greatest challenge for me in 2014.

I have resolved that in 2015 I will be diligent and disciplined in the stewardship of my time, talents, and gifts. I will be diligent and disciplined in my self-care and care of others. I will preach the sermons that are empowering and liberating. I will write the articles, books, essays, and music that are in my heart to write. I will have positive expectations, expect good and receive it. I will be happy, safe, secure, prosperous, protected, and healthy. I will be proactive to not be in despair after disappointments, and take care to be a better guardian of my heart from which flows the issues of my life.

For this writer, another year year is dawning and it will be one like no other.

O to Grace How Great A Debtor Daily I’m Constrained to Be

A year ago, I was heading to AME General Conference in Nashville, TN when this happened. I blacked out from low blood sugar, swerved into the outer lane and barely missed hitting another vehicle before going off the road into the brush and crashing head on into a tree. I walked away from this only bruised and scratched. So grateful my life was spared and I was granted more time to serve on this side of life. O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be. Hotep