2015 seems to have come and gone quicker than in recent years. I'm told that happens the older you get.
This was certainly a year of travel for me as I made about 5 trips across the pond to the US between January and October.
We kicked off January bringing in 2015 with David & Ali, Ross & Yvonne now that we finally have the space in our new extension.
I started January in Orlando with the wonderful people at Twin Technologies for the annual get together (Twin employees and contractors are spread across the globe). It's been great to see the growth in that company in just a few short years. This year was a far cry from Miami in 2011. Sadly it looks like that will be my last with Twin. In March, I started to feel the demands of keeping a US schedule just too great of a burden on the family and in those situations, there's only ever one winner.
Being in Orlando also allowed Jaclyn and I to spend our birthday together as she landed to start her internship with Disney. We had an absolute blast in a few short days together, cramming in some of the theme parks and Kennedy Space Center.
Fast-forward to March and we got a surprise visit from Jac who was starting to feel the impact of home sickness.
A weekender in Scotland certainly seemed to give her the shot in the arm to get her through the rest of the year. Being away from home, after 6 weeks, you do start to get a little home sick, so it was cool that she got to come over, surprise some family and celebrate Rebecca's birthday.
April saw me make my 2nd trip to the US, again to Orlando. This time for The Gospel Coalition conference. TGC have been a big part of work for me now since early 2014. It's great to play just a small part in that ministry effort and it was great to meet the people I speak to every week in person.
Unfortunately, demands on my time meant I only got to hear Tim Keller speak but I was there for work first and foremost. That was the week I launched TGC Australia too.
Again being in Orlando meant that I got to hang out with Jac some more (I even got a Mustang as a upgraded rental car). Again we managed to pack a lot into a few days, more theme parks, overnight in Miami (which has gone downhill since last I was there), Magic vs The Knicks.
My next trip in late April was to Philly for the excellent Peers Conf. Bonus in that I got to stay with the awesome Abe & Christi while I was there.
Peers was a great conference that allowed me catch up with other friends in the tech community that I hadn't seen for quite a while. Peers also brought Jesse Schutt and I together for the first time which was really cool. Always great to meet people in person when you talk to them regularly online.
I was barely back from the US before I was flying out again. This time for a mission trip known as Creative Missions.
I'd been tracking Creative Missions for a few years and was delighted they invited me to be a part of the team in Boise, Idaho. For those unfamiliar with CM, they pair under resourced churches with creative missionaries: web, photography, video, marketing people for 1 week.
It was an eye opener for me. Building just 1 website in a week is a hard task, never mind 2 - even one on WordPress which I'd never touched in anger before (there was a lot of anger after).
I met some very cool people and was excited to see the passion the churches had to serve and reach their communities with the Gospel. Unsure at this point if I'll be involved in CM2016, but watch this space (I do need another post about CM generally).
While I was on that trip, I did something we never had before and that was book a family summer holiday for June.
We opted for a small town on Portugal's Algarve called Carvoeiro. I spent many summer holidays there as a kid and the flight time was pretty reasonable as well.
While we were there, we bumped into the pastor who married us in Glasgow 9 years ago with his wonderful wife. It was great to catch up with them over ice cream.
One thing I don't have a record of doing well, is switching off from work. I had actually booked a villa that advertised wifi as a feature. It was probably a blessing in disguise that it didn't work. It made me nervous not being connected as I'd like but I need to heed advice that someone once gave me.
There's no such thing as an Internet emergency
We all had a blast and was good to get some solid family time in amongst the chaos.
We'd only been back a couple of days before we had my friend Michael as a guest for a few days. It was good to hang out with him for a couple of days, talk work etc.
As Michael left, a few days past and then we had my Dad stay with us for a couple of months. It had been 2 years since I last saw him and he hadn't yet met Rachel or Levi, so it was cool that was able to happen.
Before Dad left, we had a small dedication service at church for Rachel and Levi.
As Dad left, Sarah and I were gearing up for our trip to NYC to celebrate Sarah turning 30. I'd promised Sarah long ago that I'd take her to NY before she turned 30, I made good on my promise with 3 days to spare :)
It's not often that Sarah and I get anything more than an overnight together, to get 5 nights without the kids just to enjoy each others company and reconnect again was great. So thankful to Jeff & Janetta for watching the kids while we were away.
We also got to hang out with Abe & Christi (who Sarah hadn't met before, despite Abe being a part of my conversation for the last 4 years) who came up from Philly to hang out with us.
As we arrived back, it wasn't long before more travel. This time for Sarah, who travelled to Toronto with a small group of our church family for Harvest U, an annual event for Harvest churches.
Whether you come from across the country or around the globe, you will not return to your church unchanged. You will walk away with a renewed passion, clarified vision, and strengthened by the power of prayer.
This was also the first time I'd had all of the kids on my own for anything more than a few hours. It certainly left me with a different perspective on what Sarah does day in, day out for our family and it was great to be able to encourage her with some time away, even if it was without me.
This was the first time we'd had family at our place for Christmas. A huge part of the reason we added the extension was so we would have more room to entertain.
We had Sarah's folks, her brother, sister-in-law and my niece, Sarah's sister and my good friend Josh from Australia. It certainly was a busy house.
There are many from this year, our family holiday and NYC trip stand out in terms of travel.
I've continued to be encourage by our wonderful small group at Harvest and our wider church family. Seeing people pour themselves into making Harvest a place where anyone is welcome. People faithful to God's Word. The impact that I've seen that have on the lives of the kids, Hannah and her excellent 3 point sermons as she gives thanks for food :)
I'm so thankful for our church and also the wider family I met this year at the TGC conference and Creative Missions.
I tend not to look too far ahead in life, things can change all too quickly.
We welcome Jac back from the US after her internship at Disney next week. She'll be staying with us for a while until she finds a job and gets some roots down.
Harvest Bible Chapel Glasgow should have a new website in early 2016.
I'm hopeful of continuing my work with TGC in 2016 and hoping to add some new strings to my bow (always hard when you work alone, etching out the time to train at your own expense is hard).
2016 will also be the year where I get my discipleship group up and running.
Everyone who has been involved in our lives this year, those of you who have supported us in prayer - thank you.
A huge thanks to Sarah's Dad who has done a lot of work around our house this year, including the extension paint job (not bad for a one-legged man).
I pray you have a good 2016.