Yesterday I turned 40 years old and thus it was the culmination of my #Roadto40 that I started exactly 5 months ago in January. In that blog post, I said that “My short-term goal is to lose 10 to 15 pounds. My long-term goal is to hit my 40th birthday in June much healthier.”
I’m happy to say that I’ve lost the weight that I wanted to and I’m eating better and exercising regularly…thanks to Craig and his team of trainers at Precision Athletics. We have less junk food in the house now, which is really good for the kids. I still need to get better with my sleeping habits; it’s admittedly a hard habit to change given that I’ve been a night owl since my high school days.
I had a lot of time to reflect this past weekend. Not just on the last 5 months, but the last decade overall. I think reflecting is a natural thing to do (especially when hitting certain milestones such as a 40th birthday) and thus I’d like to share with you what I believe are 5 of the most prominent memories of my thirties (ranging from June 2004 to June 2014).
I was 27 years-old when Sean was born and 29 years-old when Jacob was born. When Kayla was born on December 21, 2007, I was 33 years-old. Needless to say, her birth was life-changing – and a huge blessing – for Gail and me. Gail finally got her girl (in fact, Kayla was the first Imoo girl in 75 years) and my mom had her first granddaughter. Things got off to a rocky start as immediately after Kayla was born, Gail was rushed off to emergency surgery to remove Gail’s placenta (after Gail lost a lot of blood). I detailed the ordeal in a blog back then and it’s still frightening to read the details now. Thankfully, Gail recovered quickly and we’ve witnessed our little princess mature into a delightful, strong-headed young lady. My only regret is that my Dad never got to meet Kayla. Keep on reading.
Dad passed away on October 11, 2004, just 4 months after I turned 30 years-old. His sudden death – he had a heart attack while playing golf – sent shockwaves through our family and rocked our family foundation to its core. As I’ve written in my blog before, not a day goes by without me thinking of Dad and/or praying for him. His picture adorns a wall in both our home and my office – a wonderful reminder of his good looks, warm smile, and snappy wardrobe. But more than pictures, I see Dad in Sean, Jake and Kayla. Sean has Dad’s athletic ability, Jake has Dad’s charm and sense of humour, and Kayla has Dad’s playfulness. I miss you Dad and love you very much!
In the past decade, both Sean and Jacob have received their First Communion and made their First Confession. Kayla was baptized in early 2008 and will be going through First Communion prep as part of Gail’s class this September (pray for both of them…haha). And just last month, Sean was confirmed by Archbishop Michael (my buddy). We are so blessed that our three kids are growing up in the St. Paul Parish and School community amidst caring teachers, youth ministry leaders, and friends. It’s such a vibrant and dynamic community and I can’t really imagine them growing up anywhere else. With Sean going to a public high school this September, we will lean in on the church community more than ever to sustain and support him in his faith. Of course, it all starts at home and Gail and I are certainly committed to doing whatever it takes to help lead Sean (and Jake and Kayla of course) closer to Christ.
I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to travel to many great places, either with the family on vacation or on my own (or with colleagues) for ministry and work. With the family, we’ve gone to California numerous times, along with Hawaii and most recently, Florida. For work, I’ve travelled to many different cities throughout Canada and the United States to attend conferences and meetings. But there are two trips that really stick out for me. The first was in August 2005; I was 31 years-old and I flew to Johannesburg, South Africa with Analyn to work with the Catholic Archdiocese of Johannesburg on their youth ministry. We keynoted a youth conference and then did some consulting with archdiocesan leadership. We ended off our trip by staying at a tented safari resort. You can see some pics of my trip here.
Then, in March 2013, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime: to travel with a delegation from Canada to attend the Inaugural Mass of Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Square. Many of you know about the story, everything from receiving the initial invite (and thinking it was a joke) to having to leave early from a youth conference in Regina just to make my flight to Rome in time. It was a whirlwind of a trip and I’ll never forget so many aspects of it, from the police escorts through the streets of Rome to my moment of sheer joy when I entered St. Peter’s Square for the first time. The trip made me feel instantly connected to Pope Francis, and it’s been wonderful to see the great work he has done as Pontiff.
5. Social Media and Speaking.
The past decade – and in particular the last five years – have seen the rise to prominence and popularity of social media. I try to keep things simple with my social media – I only use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Thus, I’m not on Pinterest, I don’t have a Tumblr, and I barely look at my LinkedIn account. I have a website that I update regularly with my blogs, videos, and speaking calendar.
I’ve had a lot of fun making YouTube videos, and my most popular ones are sports-related music parodies such as this Seattle Seahawks one and this Vancouver Canucks one. Ultimately, I don’t do it for the views or the notoriety; I do it because I enjoy expressing my creativity and passion for particular subjects.
I’ve been fortunate to speak at conferences and workshops in many Canadian cities and a few American ones. Along with the Johannesburg trip mentioned earlier, my most memorable speaking engagement was keynoting a large youth conference in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. I will continue to hone my speaking skills and expand my speaking topics so I can do more of it in the near future.
My frequent use of social media has led to some great discussions with friends, and thus I’m constantly asking myself just who my intended audience is and what is my desired result. Ultimately, I believe I have many gifts to share with people and I desire to have a positive impact on everyone I encounter. Thus, if someone receives inspiration or joy from reading one of my blogs or watching one of my videos…then praise God!
My 30s were definitely a decade of change, opportunity, and blessing. I’m now wiser and more experienced. Jury is still out on more mature. I have an amazing wife and kids, friends who affirm and challenge me, a rewarding job, and a community that supports me.
I can’t wait to discover what God has in store for me for my 40s!