CNN has a news article that seems to appear on every page of their website: "Ted Dansen turns 65." Who cares? Lots of people have turned 65. Reading about the Couch's adventures and mishaps in 2012 is a lot more worthy of your time.
- Early in the year, Ella was chosen to be a part of the Young Author's Faire and read her original work in front of parents and students. Only two students are chosen per class, so we were right proud. Yet, while Ella was receiving an outstanding recognition, Marty and I got the bad parent award. We couldn't be there! We had a training on the calendar months before we knew about the Faire, so Gramma took Ella.
- Speaking of training, Marty and I completed ours for becoming Sexual Addiction Specialists. After we finish our supervision, I will officially be a CPSAS (Certified Pastoral Sexual Addiction Specialist). I love having a bunch of letters behind my name that nobody knows what they mean!
- Speaking of letters behind my name, add M.A.R. to the list. A journey that started in 2008 came to completion in July. I received my Masters of Arts in Religion: Pastoral Counseling through Liberty University Online. I started at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, but decided to go Baptist. Not really, but Liberty had the focus I wanted for my current ministry.
- Speaking of our current ministry, Marty and I continued to see pastors and spouses in private counseling sessions, helping the hurting and bringing hope to the hopeless. I've had the great opportunity to travel and preach, speak at special functions, and once again do break-out sessions with Marty for our own denomination's District Council. We are definitely called to minister to the ministers.
- Speaking of ministers, Marty became a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God. Once again, she had to hit the books, study for her test, interview with a scary panel of pastors (actually, we personally knew all of them and felt very comfortable), and then received her certificate stating she is now the Reverend Marty Couch. We are all about more training and further equipping ourselves to be all that we can be in our ministry.
- Speaking of the army... (officially done with the "speaking of's"). Max signed up for his first organized sport and played coach pitch/T-ball. He was a Marlin, and had a great time. I loved hearing him crack the bat on that ball. Carting him to games and practices showed us what is in store for us as our kids get more involved in extracurriculars.
- We had to say a sad good-bye to Ingrid this year. Ingrid was our '98 Honda Accord (named after the lady who sold her to us). Ingrid served us well for almost 15 years until I ran her into a Cal-Trans trailer hitch that was sticking out in the middle of the freeway lane in the dark of early morning. But God redeemed the situation when a very kind couple from our former church gave us their 2000 Honda Accord AND we got a check from our insurance company.
- Speaking of our former church... (Dang! Couldn't escape it). We had to make a change this year that wasn't fun. We said good-bye to Pathway Church in Redwood City after attending for over two years. After much prayer and conversation, we made the painful decision to leave our friends there and go to Bethel. As much as we didn't want to, we feel going to Bethel is fitting for this season of life, but we miss Scott and Sue Aughtmon and Brett and Jenny Moody and everyone else there. Pathway was definitely where we needed to be the last two years.
- Our family grew by one. Her name is Daphne. She cost us 26 cents.
Best Books I read in 2012
Share Jesus Without Fear by William Fay (1999) was a very challenging and convicting read. It was one of my text books for seminary, but it reminded me what my job as a Christian is, not to "save" people, but share the love of Jesus. The author was a staunch non-Christian, until someone shared Christ's love with him, and then someone else, and someone else, until he finally accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. I may not agree with all of his tactics, but I am inspired by his conviction and passion to be a witness for Christ.
Wherever I Wind Up by R.A. Dickey was the first book I cracked after graduating from seminary and it was an enjoyable autobiography of a professional baseball player who not only became known for mastering the elusive "knuckleball," but also had to overcome childhood sexual abuse, typical marital strife for a Major League ball player, and learning to walk with Christ. Dickey is a proficient writer making this an easy read.
Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones is an essential book for anyone who speaks publicly. Very practical and concise book. If the reader happens to hear a message from Stanley after reading Communicating, they'll find he practices what he preaches which is what makes him an effective public speaker.
A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser refined my philosophy of life. The book was birthed out of the tragedy the author experienced when a drunk driver struck his mini-van killing his mother, wife, and one of his daughters. He recounts how he walked through the tragedy and began healing while experiencing God's grace. It's hard not to pay attention to a man who's lived through this kind of trauma, and hard to believe he is a better man of faith after the experience. Very, very inspirational.
Quotes I Read, Heard, or Said Myself
"He that has but one word of God before him and out of that word cannot make a sermon can never be a preacher." - Martin Luther
"The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there." - I. P. Hartley
"I can't change who I was but I can change who I am." T. S. C.
"The devil doesn't tempt with ugly." - Rick Fry
"The problem of expecting to live in a perfectly fair world is that there is no grace in that world, for grace is grace only when it is undeserved." - Jerry Sittser
"The greatest tragedy in life is the prayers that go unanswered because they go unasked." - Mark Batterson
I'm expecting great things for the Couch's in 2013. I believe it will be a year like we've never experienced. The New Year will be happy, and it will be sad, but make it a joyful year regardless.