Favorite Albums of 2012

Let me confess up front that I was probably more out of touch with music this year than in the past 10.  While I used to devour albums and have a ridiculously long list of favorites, this year I simply wasn’t able to do that.  All that to say, this list has very little credibility.  But here are a few albums that I found myself listening to a lot this year.  Enjoy.

1.  Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself





2.  Rocky Votolato – Television of Saints





3.  Laura Gibson – La Grande





4.  Mumford & Sons – Babel





5.  AC Newman – Shut Down the Streets





6.  Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker, Yim Yames – New Multitudes  





7.  Joe Pug – The Great Despiser





8.  Glen Hansard – Rhythm and Repose


2012; a review

Let me just say up front that 2012 was probably the most difficult year of my life. It certainly wasn’t without it’s highlights. But this year I came face-to-face with my limits, was put in several situations I had never been in, realized some significant shortcomings, and experienced more pain (both physically and emotionally) than I have in previous years that I can remember. It was TOUGH. I’m thankful it’s coming to a close.

Let me start with the highlights however. Good to start on a positive note.


-Birth of Owen!
Certainly the biggest highlight of the year was the birth of our son Owen. It’s weird having a second child. You’re wondering, “how can I possibly love this kid as much as our first?” And when he came out (I make that sound easy don’t i?) I thought, “who is this kid?” I didn’t know how to feel about him at first because he wasn’t Gram. But it didn’t take long for me to warm up to him (especially once he peed all over my chest.)  After 9 months with Owen, his personality has come out and he could not be more different than Gram, but I love everything about him.  He’s quirky and silly, he’s BIG, and he likes to say “Dadda.”  Love this kid.

-Retreat in Virginia with Ecclesia.
This was a great break to hang out with fellow Ecclesia church planters and pastors as well as get some needed time alone at Richmond Hill.  Had some great talks, good walks, a good learning experience, regular times of prayer and good evenings in the local pub.

-Trappist beer tasting party for my 32nd birthday.
This year we went all out and were able to sample a beer from each authentic Trappist brewery including the ever-difficult to acquire Westvleteren 12.  Although I wish I would have waited until they did their one time shipment to the US.  Would have been cheaper!

-Summer trip to Illinois and Bagby family reunion.
It’s nice to feel some midwest heat now and again and remember my childhood sweating in the summertime. I wasn’t planning on 104, but it felt good for about 15 minutes.

-Stand Up Comedy – Art Pub.
Rob Casteel has been doing an “Art Pub” every summer which features someone from the community teaching us about their passion or a workshop on how to do something (graphic novels, painting, marionettes, etc.) This year Rob asked me to do a workshop on stand-up comedy based on my previous experience in NYC. I was glad to oblige and had a really fun night hearing other’s premises for jokes.  LOVED our time together.  Rob does a great job with this, I’m really impressed.

-First camping trip with Gram.
I’m no camper, but a chance to hang out with my son for a weekend and experience camping for the first time was a lot of fun.  He still talks about it multiple times a week!  He can’t wait to go next year.

-The Bagby Brewery had a great year. 
I made some great beers this year and learned a lot in terms of brewing. I will have made 14, 5 gallon batches and was pretty pleased with most of them. I’ve gotten some consistency in terms of the process and am excited to dial in some of my favorite styles next year. I’m also stoked to try a few sours!


-Watching my young friend Jeremy pass away after a 2 year victory over cancer.
I didn’t think I would be doing a memorial service this year, especially of a friend that I’d been having regularly coffees and conversations with for the last three years.  It’s hard to believe it’s almost been 4 months since he’s been gone.  I still think of him often and it’s still difficult.  Anytime I’m in First Cup coffee, I think about him.  I’ve never been present when someone has passed before and I’ll never forget it.  It was truly a sacred moment and as weird as this may sound, I was honored to be invited into this families suffering.  I was blessed to be able to spend some time with him before he went and to see him pass in a very peaceful way.  The conversations we had will forever be etched in my mind.  I miss you friend.

-Seeing a couple in our community grieve the loss of their 4 year old girl.
Shortly after Jeremy passed, another couple in our community experienced the most heartbreaking and tragic loss of their sweet girl Vienne.  I cannot imagine what that would be like and even the thought haunts me regularly.  I’m still at a loss.

-A LOT of time and pain spent at physical therapy.
Most of this year has been spent in significant physical pain.  After my rotator cuff surgery in December of 2012, I’ve been living with pain in my right shoulder well through August of 2012.  I’ve never experienced this kind of excruciating, exhausting, and debilitating pain before.  For the first few months I was disappointed because I thought this kind of pain would be, or could be a formative experience.  Sometimes however, pain is just pain and just serves to remind us that things are broken and not the way they’re supposed to be.  I will say though that after this experience (which isn’t really resolved), I am more in tune with the pain of others in a way I wasn’t before.

-Serving on Grand Jury for ONE MONTH!
When I got selected for one month of Grand Jury service right after Jeremy’s memorial service it felt like a kick in the midsection. It actually turned out to be maybe the best thing for me. It was interesting, distracting, and gave me a unique experience into a whole other world. I left jury service with mixed emotions.  I could actually still be called back for one case until March of 2013.

-We said goodbye to some great people as they moved.
We miss you Liz and Matt, Steve and Krista, Dan and Dominique, Benjamin and Sarah.  It’s hard to say goodbye to such great people.

-No Bagby/Vaughn vacation to Priest Lake.
Considering we both had newborns, a 6.5 hour car trip would have been a terrible idea.  I’m excited to go back to this special place next summer.

Best Books of 2012

As always, my top list of books is not necessarily books that were published and released in 2012, but simply books I read and enjoyed in 2012.  I decided just to do a top 15 this year instead of splitting it up by genre.  So, while I read several good books that I would recommend this year…out of the 60-some books I made it through, here were my favorites (in no particular order):

Elmer Gantry – Sinclair Lewis
If you’re in ministry, stop everything and read this book. Not only is it an entertaining and captivating read, it cuts at the heart of false motivations for ministry and shamelessly slashes the hypocrisy and temptations that leaders face. I would require this of any student pursuing ministry.

Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky
The depth and complexity with which Dostoevsky is able to pierce the human heart and psyche is always stunning. This is a beautiful novel of paranoia, guilt, and ultimately repentance. Highly recommend!

The Leader’s Journey; Accepting the Call to Personal and Congregational Transformation – Jim Herrington
This is perhaps the most important book I read this year in regard to pastoral ministry. Written from a family systems therapy perspective, this is a great read about systems, self-differentiation, and establishing a healthy culture. This helped me deal with conflict in a healthy way this year in some amazing ways.

The Bible Made Impossible; Why Biblicism Is Not Truly an Evangelical Reading of Scripture – Christian Smith
While I’ve written a LONG critique of this book here and see flaws in Smith’s argument, I enjoyed the challenge and think his assessment is accurate in many helpful ways.

God Behaving Badly; Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist, and Racist? – David Lamb
Very readable, accessible, and honest book that examines this so-called disparity between the “God of the Old Testament” and Jesus.

The Glorious Ruin; How Suffering Sets You Free – Tullian Tchividijian
This will be a book I recommend for anyone who is experiencing ongoing suffering. I wish I would have had this book a year ago. Wonderful approach to suffering that excludes minimizing or moralizing it.

The End of Sexual Identity – Jenell Williams Paris
A needed and crucial resource for how to speak and think about the complexity of our sexuality.

The Sacred Wilderness of Pastora Ministry – David Rohrer
Written using John the Baptist as a model for ministry, this one really resonated in the same way that Eugene Peterson resonates with me. I was encouraged.

The Truth About Leadership – James Kouzes and Barry Posner
I usually HATE leadership books, but this was is refreshingly simple and encouraging.

The Meaning of Marriage – Tim Keller
While I don’t come from a complemtarian perspective personally, I found a LOT of value and wisdom in the Keller’s take on marriage. This will definitely be a pre-marital/marital counseling book that I use. One of the best books on marriage I have read.

Speaking of Dying; Recovering the Church’s Voice in the Face of Death – Fred Craddock, Dale and Joy Goldsmith
Why is the church so able to talk about death, but not about the process of dying? What do we do when we find out that someone is actively dying? We usually don’t do anything. The church is at a loss for how to help someone to die well. This is a good start.

Abba’s Child – Brennan Manning
Chapter 2, The Impostor wrecked me (in a good way). Beautiful. Maybe Manning’s best.

The Road Trip that Changed the World – Mark Sayers
Brilliant critique of our culture’s obsession with the idea of “life as a journey” as influenced by Kerouac (and others) and how that negatively impacts the church.

The Doors of the Sea; Where Was God in the Tsunami? – David Hart Bentley
You would think 100 page book would be quick and easy. Not this one. This one is dense but enlightening. This helps me better understand my ever-increasing distance with Calvinist theology and meticulous providence.

My God and I; a Spiritual Memoir – Lewis Smedes
I love Lewis Smedes. This is a powerful and honest reflection on his life. At one point while reading it, I almost cried on the bus on my way to jury duty and I’m not a crier.

New Brewing Blog

I know it drives some of you crazy when you jump on here to read some pastoral thoughts or reflections on life and scripture and you have to wade through beer recipes and reviews!  It never really made sense to have everything I’m interested in on the same page, so I decided to start one specifically for beer brewing.   You’re welcome!

For those of you who are interested in home brewing and beer related stuff, you can go here:  www.thealegy.wordpress.com