One year ago, I crossed the Canadian-American border, waited in line at a CBSA station near Abbotsford, handed some forms and letters to a border guard, received a stamped piece of paper, and was welcomed to come live and work in Canada.
Since then, I had my first book published, quickly followed by my second. I started back up in grad school, and our team made some significant changes in our approach to youth ministry at our church. My kiddos celebrated birthdays, and my son recently started preschool. So much has happened in such a short season.
I can honestly say that the past year has been one of the most challenging and most rewarding years of my life. It's been full of ups and downs, and we've experienced both deep anxiety and incredible moments of celebration and joy.
Here's the theme from this past year: learn.
Someone asked me when we were moving to BC what I would consider "success" after a year of life and ministry here. My response, "'success' would mean that we learned a lot." Take in all of the Canadian culture I can. Ask tons of questions: what does that mean? Why do we do it that way? How does this work? Humbly navigate life in a new land, a new church, soaking it all in like a sponge. Explore, watch, listen, and wonder. I want to know this place we now call home until it becomes a part of me.
There have been countless moments where I've felt like...well...a foreigner. An immigrant. A stranger in a new land, fumbling over my American-accented words and doing my best to fit in without being inauthentic. Yet I've also learned so much about the people here, their stories and desires and fears and values. And I love it. They've been incredibly gracious with me and my family as we've begun our journey here.
Our discerned theme for the upcoming year: deeper relationships.
Having built a small foundation of relationships here in BC, we hope to see these relationships grow in depth and intimacy as the year progresses. I'm not completely sure what the theme entails, but it's what came to mind during a prayerful and contemplative moment with my wife, where we both turned to each other and breathed the same words aloud. Deeper relationships. It's what we crave. We want to plant relational roots, growing in relational depth with the people around us. This doesn't mean we'll be best friends with everyone we encounter, nor does it mean we'll automatically achieve deep intimacy with others within a year. But we'll certainly pursue it.
This means vulnerability. Confession. Messiness. Pain.
It also means authenticity. Encouragement. Inspiration. Camaraderie. Love.
I don't know what the next 365 days entail, but I'm trusting that the Author of the story has an adventure in store.