Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Year In Review

This year, I have begun to learn a lot about idolatry. God has been showing me that I have placed a much higher priority on THINGS than I have placed on Him. I continue to do so. I am getting better. I see that 2007 is going to be a wonderful time of refocusing and revitalizing my Christian life as I continue casting off these idols in my life and begin renewing my dedication to growth in Christ.

Some of the key areas of growth have been in my:

This has been the most noticeable area of change in my life this year. God has allowed me to learn how to manage my money and live on a budget. I am learning still, but it is an awesome ride. He has allowed me to be able to begin supporting the missions efforts of my church fellowship as well as sending money to a couple of other organizations on a monthly basis to support the ministry of the Gospel here in Texas as well as overseas. I recently received a letter from one of the missionaries whom I personally support in India telling how he has been passing out tracts, books, and New Testaments to some who violently oppose the work of Christians and his ministry. This is something I never would have been able to share in if I had not learned how to manage my money.

I am planning on opening a video production/website design business this spring. Money will go toward paying down debt, car maintenance, giving to God, and minimal business expenses.

In the area of spirituality, I have not seen as much growth over the past year as I would like to have seen. I did some fasting. I did set aside some things that needed to go. I have begun to focus much more on the way that THINGS get in the way of my fellowship with the Lord. It is good to see those things beginning to come to light. The trouble is that I haven't seemed to get rid of them as quickly or effectively as I would have liked to. One huge thing that has happened that is a tremendously positive step is that I got rid of my internet for four months from July through October. Send me a message to learn more about specifically why I would have done this. This helped me to be able to refocus more on priorities and helped to pry away my computer-dependence that I have allowed to establish itself in my life. I got internet access back in November, but now I have two internet filtering programs to help keep me safe from myself. If you do not have content filtering software on your computer, you are playing with fire. Send me a message to learn more and get recommendations.

The longer I live in a hispanic-dominant culture, the longer I realize that people are more important than schedules. God has thoroughly transformed my social interaction abilities and skills over the past three years. Those who knew me then would have a tremendously difficult time believing that I am the way that I am now. It is all an answer to prayer. This year, I have continued deepening those friendships that I have here. It is awesome to see how God has brought about this change. Truly awesome.

In April, I became the treasurer of a local Christian organization. We run an interdenominational Christian teen center that is open one night each weekend. I wrote a letter to the editor of our local newspaper about the high school band. As I have now personally been the band director for over 450 students here, I also am beginning to be more recognized as I go in public. It happens even more immediately after I go to visit the various elementary campuses here. Kids just kind of look at me. It's kind of eerie sometimes.

I am making friends with more of the band parents and am beginning to incorporate myself more into the community. I am very heavily involved in my church. I run the media ministry, I play keyboards in the worship team, I open the services up from time to time. I taught a Bible study in the mornings last fall and early this spring. I am working on an advertisement for the church fellowship to play on the local television stations.

The personal growth that I have experienced this year has been broad in its impact. I am coming to a point where my focus is MUCH less on me and my pleasure, and I am focusing far more on others -- especially on mission outreaches.

As a teacher, I feel like I have learned a great deal more about running a band program. I have been graciously allowed to have another band director to work full time teaching beginning band with me. This allows me to teach him more about the job as well as it alleviates a lot of the time-constraints that I have had in the past because of administrative work. I also got the classes sorted into like-instruments and I have really been able to learn a lot about teaching the individual instruments much more. All in all, this school year is the most fun year of teaching I have ever had.

I have come to the realization that reading nonfiction books is vital to my continued growth and success in life. Since June, I have read about a half dozen of them, and I anticipate increasing the amount of time that I spend reading in the spring.

Speaking of which, this spring will be one of casting off shackles and old habits that keep me from being closer to Jesus. It's a regular clearance sale: everything mst go. Very few things that I do in my personal time are beneficial and so many of them need to be greatly reduced or eliminated entirely. I have been bingeing for far too long, now it is time to purge.

I have come to the realization that no amount of money that I save in order to get out of debt is worth sacrificing my health. I spend more money on food now than I did for a while, but it is not spent eating out nearly as much as it is on fresh vegetables and soups and other kinds of healthier foods. I walk my dog nearly every morning for about 20 minutes also. This is one area in which I have struggled for years, and it an area wherein I will see tremendous progress in the coming year. Ask me about it and keep me on track.

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