At the beginning of the year, I wrote down twelve things I was looking forward to in 2012. Time to revisit the list and see how things played out.

12. Stage of Life – I’ve embraced my stage of life. I’m not getting any younger. I’m more out of touch with pop culture. I have more gray hair appearing. I drive a minivan. I don’t watch television. More and more students call me Mr. Murphy. My free time is usually devoted to my family. I know more about LEGO than ever before. I’m 36, married, a father and a homeowner. Boring to some, but wonderful to me.

11. Soccer – Soccer has jumped into my top 3 sports I follow, along with the NBA and MLB. Outside of the U.S. Men’s National Team, I still don’t have a team I follow closely. I like Barcelona, because of Leo Messi. I like Tottenham Hotspur, because of Clint Dempsey. I like Manchester City, because they dethroned Manchester United and played wonderful soccer. I like Everton, because of Roger Bennett always talking about them. I’ll keep following the sport. It’s nice to watch a sporting event that doesn’t take a minimum of three hours. I like the season having meaning. And, I’ll keep listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Men In Blazers.

10. Downton Abbey – Season two was not as strong as season one, but I still enjoyed following the show. I did start watching more British shows because of it: Sherlock, Lark Rise to Candleford, Doctor Who (which I did not like) and MI-5. Scouring Netflix for more British shows to watch.

9. Project 4:4 – Read the Bible chronologically in a year. It was cool to see the church do this together. One of my favorite parts was reading through David’s life and piecing together some of the psalms from it. It added context to the passages, as did when reading through 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles chronologically. As a family, it was great to do this. Upon finishing his One Year Children’s Bible, Liam remarked, “Now we can start over!” Love hearing that.

8. Summer Films – It’s harder to carve time to go to the theater. Some of the movies I thought I would end up seeing I waited till they came out on DVD. I want to make sure I’ll enjoy a film if I’m going to make the investment to go see it. This was the case with Brave. I’ve always seen Pixar films in the theater, until this one. We watched it on DVD recently, and I was glad we didn’t spent the time and money to go to the theater to watch it. The Avengers was fantastic, and it was fun to take the boys to it. Liam and Duncan love the characters, and have a number of Marvel Superhero LEGO sets now. The wonder and “awesomeness” of the experience for them was fun to witness. It was nice to experience the Dark Knight trilogy all together in the theater, but I thought The Dark Knight Rises was a bit of a disappointment. Prometheus had its plot holes, but the story stuck with me. Moonrise Kingdom was delightful. The Amazing Spider-Man was good, but I can’t recall much about it now. (My two favorite films I saw in 2012 weren’t even summer films: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.)

7. Unknown – What were the big surprises this past year? Nothing jumps out at me. Family and work dominated the proceedings, and that’s good. Plenty of adventures with those two things.

6. Franklin Elementary – It was a fantastic year volunteering at Franklin Elementary. Being used to help influence kids in a positive way is a good feeling. It was fun getting to know the teachers and fellow volunteers. At the end of the 2011-12 school year, one of the classes gave me a card. This school year has been more of the same. The students are fantastic, and the teachers are great. It’s inspiring to see these teachers/staff work at a school where almost all the students are at or below the poverty line.

5. Minimalism/The RID Project – A wonderful development. I’ve lost track of all the different things Jana and I got rid of since I started The RID Project. Some rainy day I’ll post all the pics of things we’ve sold, donated, or given away. One of the big things is we are still a one-car family. Are there days where this is difficult? Yes, but they are few and far between. It’s additional time with my family, and it’s one (big) less thing to worry about if we had an additional car.

4. Silicon Prairie/Omaha YP communities – It continues to be rewarding to work and live amongst these communities in the area. The conversations are enlightening and encouraging, whether in person or on Twitter. One of the highlights of the year was attending Thinc Iowa this past October. It was a catalyst with some personal and work projects. A great event that showcased Des Moines and the Silicon Prairie.

3. Provision (of a Van) – One of the highlights of 2012. Not just with God providing a van, but what God did in me, and my family, through providing. My faith grew immensely because of the experience.

2. Online Campus – We saw over 8,000 people visit the Online Campus in 2012. We have an average attendance of over 250. We hosted classes and special events. I, or the Online Campus, received over 230 prayer requests. And yet, I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. It reminds me of my experiences with China. The more times I went to China, the less I felt I knew. Now, I know a lot about China, but I don’t pretend to be an expert. I know a lot about the Online Campus. Numerous churches have asked me to consult for them as they strategize about launching their own Online Campuses. I can speak to a number of topics relating to online church. But I have a lot to learn still.

1. Family – The best. And, we found out we are expecting baby boy #4 to arrive in early spring 2013. I may “miss” out on some things in life now, but I wouldn’t trade my stage of life for anything. Life with Jana and the boys is pure joy.

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