I say this every year, but I’ll say it again: it’s hard to believe this year’s almost over. Time flies, and the older you get, the faster it flies!
As I reflect on the past year, I wanted to jot down some highlights for you, my beloved reader/newsletter subscriber, and for posterity’s sake (or at least for my personal reference). This post will be an informal mismatch of the best of the year. Hopefully something will be useful and encouraging to you. 🙂
Disclaimer: There are a bunch of affiliate links below. That means I make a small percentage of sales at no extra cost to you. But don’t worry, I only recommend what I use and/or highly recommend.
Top Posts of the Year
- How to Listen to a Sermon
- How to Plan Your Daily Prayer Routine
- Free eBook: A Short Book on Effective Prayer
- The Psalms: A Biblical Tool for Cultivating Godly Emotions
- 31 Ways God Can Use Your Suffering for Good
- When You Fear God Doesn’t Hear Your Prayers
- God’s Sovereignty Should Fuel Prayer, Not Hinder It
My Walk with God
I don’t have major highlights to report in my walk with God but rather a slow and steady growth in trusting God’s sovereignty (one of my prayer requests to begin the year), and steady growth in faith, hope, and love. My church focused much of its teaching on faith, hope, and love this year. I now try to pray daily for an increase in each area. A worthy practice!
A Few Life Highlights
- Going to baseball Spring Training for ministry and to reconnect with some old friends.
- My wife singing the National Anthem at the Chicago White Sox game.
- Doing a workshop called Transformational Bible Study at The Orchard Evangelical Free Church – Barrington. (Coming soon to Open the Bible Courses.)
- Seeing my little girls grow and develop. My oldest one just turned five!
- This year at Open the Bible marked a change in my job description by adding responsibility to lead the Spanish language outreach of the ministry that will include a podcast, website, and many other resources. Also, Open the Bible for Leaders changed to Open the Bible Courses.
- My wife’s ministry Maker Girls By Design saw exciting signs of growth and laying the groundwork for future expansion. You can partner with us to evangelize at-risk girls in the Chicagoland area. Learn more here or contact me for more info.
- My ministry as a volunteer chaplain for a local baseball team was a rollercoaster. Many players came and went (trades, being designated for assignment, etc.), but God answered many prayers and the ministry gained momentum as the year went on. Rollercoasters can be fun when you remember God is in charge!
- This blog/newsletter saw encouraging growth and new relationships. I really enjoy putting this newsletter together and hearing from readers like you. (My Spanish site is growing as well.)
- I saw the launch of my book into Spanish and did a fair amount to promote it. (Now to work on a proposal for my next book!)
What I Watched
I’ll admit I don’t have the best recommendations for movies/TV/other entertainment, but of what I did watch, here is a sampling of the best.
- The Wingfeather Saga. Andrew Peterson’s fantasy books as an animated series. A great quality production for free. I loved watching this as much as my daughter did.
- Ken Burns National Parks Documentary series. I enjoy the blend of enjoying God’s creation with the history behind the parks. I think I’ve only been to one or two so far, I hope that changes!
- George Muller: Robber of the Cruel Streets Documentary (free on YouTube). What an inspiring man of prayer who was dedicated to God’s Word.
- King Richard, a movie talking about the early tennis careers of Venus and Serena Williams. Will Smith plays their father, a fascinating and frustrating character. (Yes, this movie won an Oscar, but people will better remember Will Smith’s Oscars slap of Chris Rock at the awards show.)
- Shooting Stars (watch trailer). This movie told the story of Lebron James’ high school basketball team in a way that doesn’t center on Lebron. Interesting and well done. (Also worth mentioning, MJ is the GOAT.)
- My family enjoyed the new Super Mario Brothers movie and my wife and I enjoyed watching or rewatching every movie from the Rocky series up through Creed III.
- I just bought this documentary on Revival from Truth for Life for $6 but haven’t seen it yet. Looks encouraging and $6 makes it a great stocking stuffer.
Podcasts I Listened To
In addition to news and sermon podcasts, here were some of the podcasts I enjoyed this year.
- Compelled. This podcast shares compelling true stories of faith from real believers. Here’s a fascinating episode to start with.
- Finding Ruby. The International Justice Mission tell a tragic story of human trafficking and a heroic story of rescue.
- The Rest Is History 7-Part Podcast series on the JFK assassination and the Who Killed JFK? podcast with Rob Reiner and Soledad O’Brien. A fascinating topic, but also a rabbit-hole of endless amounts of information, and the results of the information (much of it contradictory!) will probably never leave people satisfied.
- Seeing Jesus with Paul Miller. Refreshing and challenging.
- The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling. A look into how the woke mob went after J.K. Rowling. (Content warning.)
- American History Tellers and History Daily. I enjoyed these two storytelling podcasts that share neat stories from history.
(The same disclaimer I shared on the finances section of my Recommendations page applies here as well.)
There’s nothing major to report here, but I did enjoy a 5% interest rate on an online savings account through Wealthfront. My other savings account at Chase barely offered any interest.
Products I Enjoyed
- I just got a new Garmin Venu SQ smartwatch and have enjoyed it, although still have a lot to learn.
- I sold our bulky treadmill and bought this folding one that fits under our couch.
- My Skullcandy earbud headphones are a fraction of what Apple Airpods cost but function in a similar way.
- After reading this article on the Wall Street Journal, I bought this fishing vest and successfully avoided carry-on fees on a plane (and probably looked a little strange). It paid for itself in one flight!
- My wife and I have enjoyed this iPhone charging pad.
I pray that you experience God’s grace in a profound way this Christmas season. Until next time!