2011 In Review….

Wow, what a whirlwind year!  As I look forward to 2012, I also look back on the year that was, with many fond memories.  I’ll list some highlights in my life.  Enjoy!

2011 started with my marriage to my bestest friend, Phyliss Jean Frank (Now Hajnasiewicz – poor girl…..).  We were wed on February 23rd.  A Wednesday.  At her home in Waconia.  Her kids and mine put together an amazing display, and her neighbor, a minister, teacher and licensed – um….  – marrier?  Is that the word?? – performed the ceremonial wedding marrier guy duties.  It was beautiful.  We had pizza for dinner.  We then stayed at a very mod hotel downtown for the night, leaving for a honeymoon in Costa Rica the next morning.  Ahhh wedded bliss…..

And now, ten months later (and six and a half years together, on and off), we are still happy as clams.  I assume clams are very happy.  If you know otherwise, please replace clams with something that is happy.  Phyliss brings me so much joy.  She’s funny, smart, kind, generous, loving and beautiful.  She really is my best friend.  She’s very odd, as I am.  She gets me.  She is not perfect, nor does she try to be.  She loves the Lord, and desires to have him front in center in our marriage and in our lives.  She has many things she fears – but God is showing both of us that we don’t need to be afraid.

Marriage has stretched me.  It’s forced me to my knees.  I can be very selfish and self-centered, which doesn’t work so well in a partnership.  God has been my rock and helped me many times to swallow my pride, to die for myself, and to put my wife first.  I fall very often – but LUCKFULLY, there is grace.  Another word to describe Phyliss would be forgiving.  🙂

My prayer for P is that she becomes bold, knowing who she is in Christ.  That she sheds any guilt, fear and doubt she has carried in her life, and stands firm knowing she’s made for a special purpose.  I’m excited that I get to be right beside her as the Lord uses her for his glory!

Another monument in 2011 was the purchase of our home together.  We were blessed with a very nice home in Brooklyn Park.  And we’ve been blessed with great neighbors and many wonderful guests since we moved in.  Phyliss is made to be a host, and she shines at making people feel welcome.  So it’s a joy to have people over for dinner, games, conversation, you name it.  I look forward to many years to come with our house full of laughter and love.

If we haven’t invited you over yet, don’t you worry.  It’ll happen.  We tend to be busier than we should be, something we plan to work on in 2012.  And we want to have our doors open to anyone who needs food, shelter, or just company.

My prayer for 2012, is that God use this blessing in a home, to provide for others, even more than he already has.  That both P and I are stretched and brought out of our comfort zones, and used to be “good samaritains”.

I was blessed in 2011 with watching my kids grow up even more.  Dylan is becoming quite the young man, at 12.  He’s very respectful, and very helpful.  I can count on him to help me as I try to be a handy man (and he doesn’t realize I have no idea what I’m doing….).  And he just loves to play games – any game.  If it’s a game or sport, count him in.  He is now in middle school, which was a change for him.  But he’s doing extremely well.  He’s also becoming quite the utility baseball player, playing anything from second base to shortstop, to outfield, to pitcher.  My prayer for Dylan is that he comes to know Jesus Christ on a personal level, and that God uses his ability to converse with virtually anyone (he’s a talker, that Dylan) to share his love with the world.

Stella is becoming a beautiful woman.  She’s no longer a little girl.  She’s in 9th grade!  And DRIVING!  Granted, it’s just a permit.  But it’s been exciting (and scary) to take her out driving.  She’s quite good, and for the most part a good student.  Her teacher, on the other hand, could let go of the anxiety a bit, and not make her nervous every time she is parking, driving on the highway, or any other thing that is currently taking years off my life…..

Stella is a huge music buff, just like I was.  She’s a rocker.  Probably always will be.  It’s cool to see how passionate she is about music.  And about current events.  She doesn’t cling to a popular political view, but is open to all sides and from there tries to understand what is right.  And I love how FUNNY she is.  Stella is quiet – but when she lays down a joke, you didn’t see it coming, but you will probbaly laugh so hard you risk peeing your pants.  I think so anyway.  If you don’t get it – you may not be smart enough for her.  That’s ok, she’s so kind she’ll never let you know that.

My prayer for Stella is that God uses that passion she has, and she turns it toward him.  When that happens, watch out world!  She may not be the gabber Dylan is – but her compassionate heart will not allow for her to leave someone hungry or naked or without shelter.

2011 gave me a larger family too!  With my marriage to P, I was blessed to become a step-father to Travis, Becky, Adam, and Stanton, Becky’s husband.  I’ve known them for some time now, and love them to pieces.  Adam is definitely a man’s man, who scales mountains, travels the world, can cook just about anything, and even can tile your bathroom.  At 24, he may be the next world’s most interesting man (Youtube “the world’s most interesting man”, if you aren’t sure what I’m talking about).  My prayer for him is that as he’s seeing the world and embarking on all these amazing adventures, that God grabs his heart.  Once that happens, Adam, a man with no fear, will no doubt follow the great commission from Matthew 28 to go to the ends of the earth and make disciples of all nations.

Travis is the consumate outdoors guy.  He hunts, he fishes, he works for Ron Shara, how cool is that?  He’s traveled all over North America, producting shows for Ron Shara Productions.  But Travis is a homebody, and would prefer to be on a lake, fishing for the largest Muskie in Minnesota.  I believe he’ll achieve that goal in my lifetime.  My prayer for Travis is that he continues to prepare his heart to be the husband God created him to be.  That he continue to seek the Lord daily.  That he continues to follow Christ in all that he does, laying his very life down for others.

I can’t forget to mention Sarah, Travis’ girlfriend.  A longtime best friend of Becky’s, Sarah and Travis became the couple we all saw they were for a long time, just a couple months ago.  I pray for both of them, as they grow together, that the challenge each other to seek the Lord and walk with Christ – both individually and together.  And that they get married, if it is God’s will  (Sorry guys, I know you’ve heard it enough.  But I can’t help but pray it.  🙂 )

Becky and Stanton.  What can you say about them?  Becky was definitely one of my “spiritual mentors” early on when I was saved.  Her obedience to Christ led her to leave her stable career and become a missionary traveling to Africa.  This is where she met Stanton, just three years ago.  Stanton’s obedience led him here, to marry his bride.  ONE YEAR LATER.  Now get this – they didn’t see each other for ALMOST A YEAR, between getting engaged and getting married!  They got engaged in Africa, and then had to waith something like ten months for Stanton to come here to the States so they could get married!  Huh???  In this day and age in America, that is unheard of.  But they spent each and every day in prayer, for each other, for themselves – and, for all of us.

I am just blown away at how this couple is a shining example of what is means to walk with God.  What it means to truly be a light.  Stanton is a missionary as well, heading to India next month.  Please pray for him, and for Becky, as they are apart while Stanton is used to bring the Gospel to kids in India.

My prayer for Stanton and Becky is that they avoid the “American dream”, and are ready when the Lord calls them wherever that is they are to go.  Whether it be here in the States, or anywhere else in the world.  That they fan the flames of the faith the Lord has given them, and continue to be a light in this dark world.

2011 brought an amazing gift to our family in young Kingston James Petersen!  Born November 23rd to Becky and Stanton, he’s the most adorable little baby boy.  And – because of my “adoption” into this family, that makes me a grandpa!  At 41, I’m a grandpa….  How weird.  But it’s so cool!  I am blown away at how amazing it is to watch him grow.  And – when my lovely wife lets me – to hold this amazing bundle of joy.  And to see his parents in a completely new role in their lives.  They are naturals.  God is using them to raise this child, and it’s so cool knowing they show him who Jesus is – not just some “concept” of a god, but they will show in teachings and in action who Jesus Christ is.  And this kid will know the Lord on a personal level, because he sees him in his parents on a daily basis.

My prayer for Kingston is that he follow in his father’s footsteps.  That he at a young age seek the Lord, seek wisdom and know the love and grace of salvation through Jesus Christ.

There have been many other things, but I don’t want to bore you too much.  Go enjoy your evening!  Ring in the new year!  Make those resolutions, if that is your thing.  But my prayer for you is that in 2012 you take a step closer to the Lord.  If you know him, that you seek him with everything you have.  His word promises that you will find him if you seek him with all your heart.  So do just that.  Delight in the Lord, as he does in you!

And if you don’t know him, or don’t even want to know him, I pray that your heart is changed unexpectedly.  Before you insist that isn’t possible, remember – I was you, less than five years ago….  God loves you where you are in your life.  My prayer is that you realize that, and draw near to him.

I love you.  Have a safe and happy new year, and may the Lord bless you and keep you in 2012!