I'm sitting here surrounded by friends who are making top ten lists for 2011. Usually I go against the grain and refuse to get sucked in to these sorts of things. But I decided to go against my own grain and jump on in. So here we go.
#10 - Attended my first Iron Bowl -- Quite interesting... Last minute tickets, fun road trip with a fun person (more to follow on that), and my team won big. All in all, a great experience. But the best part of the whole experience was dinner after the game. A wonderful little Cajun restaurant, new friends, and good conversation. I would have passed up on the ballgame if I had to choose between the two.
#9 - Epic backpacking trip -- Well, not quite epic. It was just an overnight trip. But I took my youngest brother and dad to the Sipsey Wilderness in Bankhead National Forest. Fifteen miles in two days. Much beauty, and deep conversation. Lots of fun.
#8 - Turned 30 -- Well, it had to happen eventually. I haven't been struck with regret because of missed opportunities. It hasn't been much different from 29, really. But I'm thinking the next year will bring some new things.
#7 - Amazing worship experiences -- I led or took part in some awesome worship experiences this year. It began on the first Sunday of the new year at Christ Episcopal in Tuscaloosa with a wonderful service. The next huge thing was participating in the Ash Wednesday service at Shady Grove UMC in Muscle Shoals. I planned and led an Easter Vigil at Holland's Chapel UMC on Sand Mountain, and the next day was back at Shady Grove to help with the Easter service. I got to lead worship for the counselors of Junior High 3 at Sumatanga in July; we did a Wesley covenant renewal service. I was back in Muscle Shoals for three weeks in October and November while my dad was in the UK. Back again for Christ the King, and yet again the first week of December as St. Nicholas. Then one last time on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I also got to go to Sewannee to the nine lessons and carols service at the seminary. All of the above were great experiences. I look forward to many more in the coming year.
#6 - New friends -- I've met more new friends this year than any other, I think. You're all great.
#5 - Tornado relief work with Upper Sand Mountain Parish -- This one could go both ways. There was so much bad that happened, and one could look at it and say that life is terrible. But at the same time I saw Christ working in so many different places and in so many different ways. To be a part of such a huge relief effort was quite amazing.
#4 - Started posting regularly on the Barefoot Friar -- I had started it quite a while back, but this year I started posting regularly. This has been a plan for quite a while, and seeing it take shape has been fun.
#3 - Getting promoted at work -- In October our warehouse manager stepped down unexpectedly and I was asked to take his place. It has been quite an experience, and the responsibilities have been large. But this has put me in a good place for...
#2 - Building a Heart and Hand Home -- Working at the Parish has been eye-opening, but being thrust into the responsibility of building a house on a tight budget with no experience forced me to learn new things and has made me learn new leadership skills.
#1 - Dating Rachel Sparkman -- I met her a couple years ago (I'm friends with her dad), but we went to a political rally in Birmingham on June 26. After the rally we went to eat pizza with some folks and on the way over to the restaurant I saw her putting her hair up in a purple hair band. The light playing off her red hair, her beautiful green eyes, and her wonderful personality caused me to fall head over heels right then. It took me several weeks to convince her to "go steady" with me, but six months later we're still going strong. I have high hopes for the future, but I have to finish school first.