Recap of 2022:
1. READ THE BIBLE EVERY DAY. I started out pretty consistently this past year, but then started to waver after a month or so. So, this year I’m going to shorten it to one chapter of Isaiah and John each day. I did it! Praise God! I began with Isaiah and John and read at least a chapter a day (two chapters on all but maybe 5 days). I worked through the New Testament a couple of times and read 19 of the 39 Old Testament books.
2. MEMORIZE ROMANS CHAPTER ONE: This has been a goal over the last 6 years, and I’m still dropping the ball. I commitment to this has to be strengthened. Worked on this, but certainly didn’t make the headway I wanted to. Need to prioritize this again.
3. SERVING MY WIFE: Helping her out with photography and schooling the girls is a bit out of the question, I’ve learned, but I certainly can continue to make the dishes and meals a priority. In addition to this, I need to be more creative in initiating dates with her. We don’t have much money, so I need to come up with some enjoyable things to do on the cheap. It’s my hope to take a vacation with just her and me this next year. We went on more dates, but not a lot more. This year was full of financial complexity, but through the generosity of friends, we were able to take a trip to Paris after my doctoral colloquium in Belgium. That trip was a trip of a lifetime. Such a blessing for Ashlee and I to travel together. But I certainly need to create more consistency throughout the year.
4. SERVING MY DAUGHTERS: I’ve got to do a better job of prioritizing this as well. My goal is to commit to one lunch/coffee/dinner date with one girl a week. Being accessible to talk is always something I’m pretty good at, but I need to be more proactive with them. I want to try and start playing tennis with the older girls and maybe basketball with Cardin, as she wants to try her hand at basketball this next year. I also need to work with Cardin to get her ready for baptism this year. She’s been wanting to get baptized and we’ve been holding off for various reasons, but I think this is the year! I want to help Gareth continue to excel in her piano skills and possibly in another theatrical performance or two. Well, although there were good moments and some intentional moments, schedules and crazy life circumstances just made this goal a bit complex. Also, our church membership context was complicated and I was not able to comfortably move Cardin towards baptism at this point. But hoping 2023 presents a better opportunity.
5. HEALTH-WEIGHT LOSS-WORKING OUT: So, things didn’t work out quite like I would have liked in this category last year, and thus I find myself still hovering (or sinking) between 225 and 230lbs of late. This has got to change. I picked up a work out partner for a few weeks this past fall, but I became dependent on whether he went or not, and thus I simply didn’t go if he canceled. The goal is to work out at least once a week, but hopefully 2 or 3 times a week starting this next week. Another goal is to do 22 pushups every day, no matter what. Losing 40 lbs in one year is a lot, so the new goal is to get down to 200 lbs by the end of the year. I also need to get back in the habit of not drinking any sodas/pop/coke…whatever you want to call it. Additionally, I’d like to get a 3-mile run time down to 24 minutes this year. That’s a significant goal, but certainly possible if I lose the weight and keep a working out each week. This has been a mixed year for health and exercise. I SUCCEEDED in doing at least 22 pushups every single day in 2022. At times I got up to 45 in a single set and up to 60 pushups a day of various kinds. I worked on different forms of pushups, including handstand pushups and diamonds. THAT SAID, I ran into a hiccup in relation to my running. I’ve had gastrointestinal issues for years, and have delt with what appears to be either a stomach ulcer or a hiatal hernia for a long time without any major issues. But in January of 2022 I went back to the gym to start running again and I experienced significant pain in the middle of my chest about a minute into my run. Through a couple more tries I discerned that I could do any other type of workout but if I tried to run on the treadmill at even a 10 min/mile pace, painful pressure would make me stop. So, I didn’t run all last year.
Also, I simply haven’t lost weight. I haven’t really gained weight either, but the lack of cardio has placed my normal weight loss strategies at a disadvantage. I’ve got to prioritize this in 2023 in a way I haven’t in the past.
6. FULL-TIME UNDERGRADUATE TEACHING/MENTORING POSITION: As I stated earlier, I came close to being granted this desire, but the Lord chose not to grant me it just yet. But I’m still praying and hoping for this development this year. I’m hopeful that it works out with Liberty, but I’ll be keeping my eyes open for other opportunities as the Lord guides. Thankfully, the administrators at Liberty that I work under are granting me significant online work. While not the end goal, it does provide significant flexibility and time for me to work on my doctoral work. Well, this didn’t happen, but I have been given a lot of online classes as an adjunct ethics instructor for Liberty. This has been close to full time work, but without the stability and benefits that would normally come with a full-time position. In some ways this was probably best considering the place I was in with my doctoral degree this past year. I had the flexibility to research and write and travel in a way I probably wouldn’t have with a full-time position on campus.
7. WRITING: I’m simply not going to be able to write for pleasure the way I’d like to, as my primary writing goal this year will be to make significant progress on my dissertation, once the proposal has been approved. A blog post might develop here and there based on life and world issues, but it’s just not going to be a priority.
-Podcast: A podcast is still a possibility, but it will probably be in conjunction with someone else if I do it. Amazingly, I started a podcast this past fall. I’ve had a few friends that have encouraged me in this direction over the past several years, and it was a friend’s testimony about having a vision about me creating a podcast that finally put me over the edge. So far I’ve gotten some positive feedback and I’m looking to get even better at it in 2023. However, as expected, I didn’t have the time and energy to write blog posts for the most part.
8. EDUCATION: As stated above, the primary goal in my education this year is to get my dissertation proposal and publishable journal article approved by the doctoral committee and then begin work on my dissertation. This has got to be a significant focus this year, as I don’t want to be working on my PhD until I’m 50….although that’s increasingly possible. This was a MILESTONE year, as I completed my pre-dissertation stage and passed my doctoral exam. This allows me to now focus on writing my dissertation for the remainder of my doctoral program.
9. SACRA DOMUS: Again, not sure where it’s going and it’s not high on the list…but I’ll continue to post things on the Facebook page from time to time and I might start a monthly discussion group related to biblical, theological, and ethical topics. This remains in the same condition as last year. Just some random posts on the Facebook page, and I wasn’t able to start a discussion group.
10. TRAVEL: Traveling overseas once this year with Ashlee. As last year, It was our hope for Ashlee to accompany me to my doctoral colloquium in Belgium this past September, but that was derailed once again. We’re still hopeful that we can take an extended trip to Europe around my Colloquium for our 20-year anniversary celebration….now 3 years after the fact. Thankfully, THIS HAPPENED! Again, due to the generosity of friends and of my school offering my wife free room and board at the Colloquium in exchange for a significant amount of photography work at the Colloquium, Ashlee and I were able to spend two weeks in Europe together, with three of those days in Paris. It was an amazing gift from God to enjoy a vacation in Europe focused on our marriage relationship.
11. COMMUNITY & CHURCH INVOLVEMENT: We will be leading and hosting a small group for our church community, which is very exciting for us. I also plan on continuing the mentor relationships that I started last year and develop some new ones out of our church and Liberty. I also want to get out fishing again with my next door neighbor and continue to develop closer and broader relationships with those in our neighborhood. In addition to these, we are also looking to get involved in some volunteer work at the food pantry/community kitchen downtown. The small group experience started off really well, and we developed great relationships with most in our small group, but some ecclesiological differences caused tensions that progressively made remaining at that church untenable. As of October, we’ve been visiting other congregations in hopes of finding a new community to partner with that is more in line with our convictions. That said, I have been able to continue to meet with several young men throughout the year, and I’m hopeful to continue to invest in those relationships.
12. READ A FICTION BOOK: As I stated above, I started reading Kim by Rudyard Kipling this past week, and I plan to keep working on that over the next month or two. I’m a slow reader, but I can get lost in a book from time to time. So, here’s hoping I finish that one and then jump into one of the Joseph Conrad books I picked up last year. I started to read Kim, but my focus on my doctoral research made extracurricular reading difficult. But there’s hope for this next year.
13. RENOVATION: We still have to install the transitions from the new tile kitchen floor to the wood dining room floor and install some thresholds as well. If I get some full-time work, the goal is to also try and put up a new fence in the back yard. I think the built-in bookshelves in my study will have to wait for another year. Well, none of that happened yet, but someone just bought all the fence material for us!! So, that will be something that gets installed soon. Then we’ll see about the other projects.
14. HUNTING: I picked up a full hunting/fishing license this past summer in order to go fishing with my neighbor, but the hope was that I would get the opportunity to go deer hunting this fall and winter. I was able to go once, thanks to a friend from church, but I this next year I’d like to make that a couple of times at least and to actually shoot a deer. We slaughter the deer ourselves and use every ounce of meat that we can. Didn’t happen. But there’s always next year.
15. LANGUAGE: It’s not imperative that I learn German for my doctoral work, but I would like to pick up a working level of reading German in order to engage primary sources more efficiently. This is something I worked on a bit, but didn’t put the time into it as it didn’t end up being a strong emphasis in my doctoral studies. That said, it’s still a goal.
16. HIKING & SKIING: I’d like to get outdoors with the family more often this year. We definitely have access to hiking trails near us, and we need to prioritize getting out there more often. But I’d also love to take our family snow-skiing this year. We’ll see how it goes. We didn’t really do any hiking as a family this past year, but Ashlee and I did get out with some friends one time to hike to Cascade Falls. Snow-skiing didn’t happen, but there’s always the hope. I didn’t think I’d be going to Paris this past year, so who knows what can happen!
GOALS FOR 2023!
1. READ THE BIBLE EVERY DAY: Continuing with the success of last year, I’m going to continue the two chapter a day goal. However, I found that most of the time I would read the two chapters while lying in bed right before going to sleep, and this is not the most preferable pattern for Bible reading. So, this year the goal is to read at least one chapter soon after waking up in the morning. I’m hoping that this change will also help orient my mind and attitude in a healthier way over the course of this next year.
2. MEMORIZE ROMANS CHAPTER ONE: Still a goal. It’s been a goal for far too many years for me to not have accomplished it yet. I need your accountability on this. Please ask me how it’s going from time to time.
3. PRAYER: For many years I’ve practiced a very fluid form of prayer, or conversation with God. I still believe this to be the essential way of prayer, walking with God throughout the day and having conversations with Him about what is going on in life and lifting up concerns as they come to mind. That said, I believe I need a season of more intentional prayer time, on my knees. There was a time when most churches in America would have Wednesday night prayer services, devoting 45 minutes to communal prayer. I believe we need more of this in our lives again, but it should start with my own personal devotion. Thus, it’s my goal to spend at least 10 minutes of focused prayer on my knees each day in 2023.
4. SERVING MY WIFE: Always a goal, but as I stated in my 2022 recap, I need to be more intentional on consistent dates. So, the goal is to go on two dinner/movie dates a month with Ashlee. I also continue to try and use the vocational flexibility I have right now to continue to partner with her in shuttling the kids around and helping with chores around the house.
5. SERVING MY DAUGHTERS: As mentioned earlier, this was complex year in terms of schedules and resources, but intentional time with my daughters should always be a priority. So, the goal is to go on a lunch date with one daughter every two weeks.
6. HEALTH-WEIGHT LOSS-WORKING OUT: The weight-loss goals need to be prioritized, and thus I need to get far more intentional about taking steps to insure progress. I’ve found over the past several years that it’s easier for me to add habits than it is to subtract them, so I’m going to attempt to “add” a dietary regimen that will help me avoid some of my habitual struggles in eating. I will be adding 3 DAYS A WEEK of NO GRAINS. I’ll also be giving myself only two days a week that I can drink sugary sodas. In addition to these dietary measures, I’ll continue the minimum 22 pushups a day, and 25 4-count flutter-kicks. Since it’s been a while since I’ve tried to run on the treadmill, I’ll give that another go in the coming weeks to see if my body is still responding in the same concerning way.
7. FULL-TIME UNDERGRADUATE TEACHING/MENTORING POSITION: Although I’ve appreciated the flexibility of significant online teaching opportunities, it still doesn’t provide the financial stability or the vocational context that I ideally desire. I’ll still be looking for full time teaching positions in ethics, theology, worldview, and spiritual formation.
8. WRITING & PODCAST: Although I won’t be writing that many blog posts this year, I’ll be attempting to produce 1 audio podcast at Thoughts from the Glen podcasts every two weeks. I had been producing 1 every week, but as I begin to focus on my dissertation in earnest, I’ll need to be stingier with my time.
9. EDUCATION: As stated above, the primary writing goal in 2023 is dissertation focused. The goal is to write the first 3 chapters of my dissertation by the end of 2023, allotting 1.5 hours, 5 days a week.
10. SACRA DOMUS: Probably not much will be pursued in relation to this initiative in 2023. I’ll continue to look at the possibility for a monthly discussion group as we get settled into a new local congregation and as I experience progress in writing in my dissertation.
11. TRAVEL: Now that travel seems to be fairly fluid again, I’ll expect to attend the 2023 Doctoral Colloquium for ETF. Ashlee’s experience last year has lit a fire under her to try and get back to Europe again with me this year, but we shall see how things work out. I’d obviously love to take her again. Although I don’t see it happening this year, I still have a heart to get back to India in order to encourage friends who have been laboring in difficult circumstances over the past many years.
12. COMMUNITY & CHURCH INVOLVEMENT: We are hopeful to get plugged into a new congregation in 2023, and build relationships that we can invest in. We’ll continue to invest in the relationships we made at our last congregation as well, and continue to invest in our neighborhood. We’ve developed several new relationships in our neighborhood this past year, and we’re looking to engage in more intentional activity with our neighborhood association. I’d like to also get us involved in periodic volunteer work in the area, as that didn’t work out this past year.
13. READ A FICTION BOOK: I barely started reading Kim by Rudyard Kipling at the beginning of last year and then never picked it up again. It’s not that I didn’t find it intriguing, just find it difficult to choose fiction over doctoral research. But I’m committed to continue to try.
14. RENOVATION: The bookshelves will probably have to wait for another year or two, but someone gifted us money to fix our fence, which is falling over and broken down. Ashlee’s brother will be coming into town this month to help us install it! Transitions and thresholds are still on the list of goals in 2023.
15. LANGUAGE: It’s not imperative that I learn German for my doctoral work, but I would like to pick up a working level of reading German in order to engage primary sources more efficiently.
16. HIKING & SKIING: If my health allows, I’d like to hike at least a few times with the family this year. Also, I’d like to continue to look for an opportunity to take our family snow-skiing.
Over the past year (actually over the past many years) I’ve learned that it’s easier to add habits and experiences to my life than it is to subtract them. I think it requires more fortitude to subtract things. So, 2023 is going to be about attempting to refine my weeks by subtracting things, even if just a little, that are distracting from more important things. I’m hopeful to stare at Twitter less and get on my knees in prayer more. I’m not sure what 2023 might bring, but I know that I’ve been blessed far more than I’ll ever deserve, and I know that God is good, worthy of my praise and devotion. I hope that my actions this year are empowered by my devotion to Christ Jesus, that the Spirit would influence my every thought, word, and action.
Jason Truett Glen
I leave you with Alfred Lord Tennyson’s 1850 poem, “Ring Out, Wild Bells”
“Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.”