Satisfaction, Surprises, and Celebrations in 2011

by Andy Wood on January 1, 2012

in Books and Music

A year ago at this time I found myself reading and hearing a lot of people emotionally drop-kicking 2010 to the curb.  “Good riddance!” they all said.  “What a sorry year!  Here’s hoping 2011 will be better.”

I haven’t checked yet this year.  Who knows?  Maybe that’s what you’re supposed to say so that the first of January feels even more exciting and hopeful.  I just found myself really surprised by all that for some reason.

Don’t get me wrong.  I saw plenty of reasons to howl at the moon about how awful things were.  But I also plenty of other reasons to look back with gratitude and – dare I say it? – satisfaction.

I decided to be more proactive this year.  Believing that 2012 is going to be an extraordinary year, I spent a little time looking back at the past 12 months and sharing a few lists of things that helped shape my heart and my world.

But first, let me tell you a very quick story that captures the essence of this year for me.  A few months ago I was out driving in the middle of nowhere on a fall West Texas day.  It was about 4:30 in the afternoon. Just off the highway, to the right, I saw three does feeding.  I was surprised to see them out this early, but enjoyed the scene.

A couple of miles ahead, this time on the left, a saw a deer’s backside pointed at me as it was grazing beside the road.  “Oh,” I thought, “another doe.”  Raising its head, this is what I saw:

In nearly 12,000 pictures taken, this is my favorite.  This magnificent animal became the definition of “serendipity” for me.  And this year, like every year, was full of them.

Okay, here are some favorites from 2011.  The temptation is to comment on every one of them, but I don’t have the time and you don’t have the patience.  Check them out.

My 12 Favorite LifeVesting Posts

Listed in order…

1.  Still Loving, Still Here

2.  Dear Shepherd

3.  Dear Jackson

4.  Parakaleo

5.  I Choose the Offering

6.  A Heart Made Glad

7.  The Lovely Moment

8.  How God Comforts a Grieving Heart

9.  Discouragement Never Sits Still

10.  Eugene Has a Vision from God

11.  How Growed Up Are You?

12.  A Love that Watches


My 5 Favorite Photo-Related Posts

1.  First Snow

2.  When Evening Shadows and Stars Appear

3.  I Kissed a Deer

4.  Hands and Feet and Little Seats

5.  Firstborn

Blogs/Sites I started Reading/following in 2011

My One Word

Don Miller’s Blog


The King’s English

The Mindset Maven

Derek Sivers



My Favorite Blog Posts by Others

The Trade We All Forget to Make (Stuff Christians Like) – A fresh angle on the Prodigal Son.

Credibility:  It Still Matters (Jim Kouzes) – Credibility is measured by how the leader makes constituents feel.

One Day – (Steven Furtick) –  The two most deadly words to any dream.

My Years in the Wilderness (Stephen Pressfield) – Passionate call to perseverance.

Dry Bones or an Army:  What’s Your Vision as a Leader? (Margaret Feinberg) – Great take on a leader’s perspective.

Yelling and Whispering (Seth Godin) – Mrs. Mays would have loved this.

After You’ve Done Your Best (Seth Godin) – There is still more you can do.

National Geographic Photo Contest (The Big Picture) –  If you fancy yourself as a photographer, this may cure you.

A Running List (Carrie Wiley) – Check out all of Carrie’s “list” articles- they’re hilarious.

To Whom It Most Concerns (Joel Wood) – Joel’s beautiful piece just before Jack was born.


10 Books I Read that You May Want to Check Out, Too

Your Secret Name by Kary Oberbrunner

Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton

In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

The Servant by James Hunter

Invitation to a Journey:  A Roadmap for Spiritual Formation by Robert Mulholland

David:  Man of Passion and Destiny by Charles Swindoll

Do the Work by Steven Pressfield

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney

Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy


10 Songs Worth a Listen (or a Dollar Download)

Some may not be new to you, but they lit me up for the first time this year.  Links are to Youtube Videos.

As Long as You’re There (Glee Cast)

Great I Am (New Life Worship)

Just Fishin’ (Trace Adkins)

I Will Not Be Moved (Natalie Grant)

Not Guilty Anymore (Aaron Keyes)

Your Great Name (Natalie Grant)

Beautiful Scandalous Night (Robbie Seay Band)

Day After Day (Kristian Stanfill)

Life for Rent (Dido)

Forever Reign (Hillsong Live)


My Favorite Laura Kate Quotes

I was going to list some of my favorite written or spoken quotations this year when it dawned on me that our oldest grandchild (and only girl) is a quote factory in her own right.  So I decided to close this with my favorite Laura Kate quotes for the year.  No certain order, although the first is my favorite and the most recent.

(On seeing a picture of her uncle Joel holding Baby Jackson in his lap) – “Oh look, it’s the Muppets!”

(In the car with me on an adventure) – “Papa, are you growed up?”

Me:  “Yeah, I’m growed up.”

LK:  “Yay, Papa, you did it!”

“I think I left my mind back at Grammy’s house.”

(On the return of her Daddy from a mission trip) – “This is our castle, and our King has come home!”

(Sitting at the dinner table, wanting to put on one of those things you tie around your neck to keep food from spilling on your clothes) – “I want to put on a bra.”

(To a total stranger in Target) – “There is a new baby in Mommy’s tummy and it is a sister and her name is Hannah.”

(When she was disobeying her mother, and was asked what her memory verse was at church that month) – “Children obey Winnie the Pooh in the Lord for this is right. Ephesians 6:1.”

(When her mother walked into her own bedroom and found LK sticking her mother’s jewelry to the footboard of the bed with chapstick) – “Mommy, I think I need to wash my hands. They are sticky.”

(Sitting in the cart at Hobby Lobby while her mother was checking out, to the total stranger behind them) – “I need to go poo poo so hard but the potty is a happy potty and the noises aren’t scary noises but happy noises.”

(When her Grammy told her that the frog was no longer in her throat) – “How did it get out?”

(Lining her babies up on her bed…) – LK:  Mommy, are those babies slaves?

Mommy:  Where did you hear that word?

LK:  From the story of Moses and his people.

Mommy:  No, those babies aren’t slaves.

(Bedtime prayer…) – “Thank you God for Daddy’s eyebrowns and his hair that is so cute.  And God help Mommy be saved.”


Happy New Year, friends.  My prayer is that you find fresh and new ways to invest your life this year for a compelling future and a glorious eternity.

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