A Look Back: Reflections on 2023

soul impact Dec 31, 2023

Sorry! No video this week. We're travelling, and it isn't possible.

First, the reason I'm doing this.


As we come to the end of the year, I always recommend doing sort of an audit on their year. What's happened? What were the highlights? The lowlights? What did you learn? What did you love? What will you do again? What will you never do again?


You see, experience isn't the cornerstone of a significant life. Examined experience is. Evaluated experience.


So, what I'm giving you here are those things that stand out from all the stuff we've done through this past year. For this, I'd suggest this exercise as the place to start to grow in your journey. Just write it down.


Then, in private, examine it. Answer the questions in the paragraph above.


And make it a choice to grow.


Tomorrow - January 1st - I'll post our look ahead at 2024.


Thanks for being here!


What a year 2023 has been!


For us, it began with Covid. We tested positive just before Christmas, and we were mostly feeling okay on New Years Day, but a week or so later, Elsie got hammered with something.


Stiff neck, headaches, high blood pressure, unable to turn her neck at all.


A trip to ER gave us an initial diagnosis. After a lumbar puncture, they concluded it was meningitis. They weren't sure if it was viral, bacterial, or fungal, but she was isolated, admitted, and they began treating her for all three. Elsie was in agony, as she spent several days in ER, finally getting into a room. After 10 days of treatment, they concluded that she was getting better, but they had learned it wasn't meningitis after all. They put it all down to "after-Covid." And sent her home. It took a while, but eventually everything returned to normal.


For three years, I had been working with our good friends, Kevin and Joyce Nerling, at their company, Wide Plank Hardwood, where they manufacture and sell custom flooring and just about anything else that can be made out of hardwood. When I started there in customer service, I knew practically nothing about wood, and I am so thankful for the experience. I continued to learn a lot, but it was time to "retire" from the flooring business, so I could focus exclusively on serving my clients through Soul IMPACT, as a coach, trainer, speaker, and leading organizations through the stages of strategic planning.


One of the great privileges of my life has been to serve the Lord and Northview Community Church as a member of the Council of Elders. Just before Covid hit in 2020, the church had determined that it was time to build a new, 2000+ seat worship centre at our main campus in Abbotsford. When Covid arrived, we hit pause. In April, 2023, it was time to hit "play" again, and our congregation agreed. We love the way this is coming together. Although it will take 3 years to complete, the aim is to be debt-free at that time. Praise God!


"Five Minutes with Phil" has continued, with the weekly publication of my blog, "Timothy, My Son," reflections and thoughts on Paul's letter to his spiritual mentee. Two years in, and about a year to go to finish what Paul has written!


Throughout the year, I've been learning more and more about marketing. I have no doubt that Soul IMPACT can make a huge difference in the lives of many, but not if they don't know about it! I've had the privilege of working with Kajabi, Click-funnels, Corey, Tuan and their team at Premier, Alex Hormozi, Canva, YunaPro, Jim Edwards and so many others. I always go in, asking the question, "What can I learn here?" And there is always lots! As with John Maxwell and the Maxwell Leadership Certified Coaching program, now with over 50,000 coaches, it's great to learn from the best!


In March, we had to say goodbye to our little Chihuahua-Pomeranian dog, Lucy. She was 12. She had back problems a few years ago, but one morning her back right leg was paralyzed. She would drag it around, but was in a lot of pain, and after 10 days, we decided that there was no alternative. She was difficult with other people, but there was no doubt she loved us, and we certainly loved her. She is still missed.


So, in May, we met Mickey, a two-year old black Shih-tzu, who is also the father of Melodie's Padme. He has the most wonderful, loving personality, and no one can keep from loving him! As much as we miss Lucy, Mickey has helped to fill that void. I can't say he's the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he may be the most loving and adorable! So that counts, right?


We had our first wedding of a grandchild, as Jace in Atlanta married Hannah, the only sweetheart he had ever known. We were able to be with them in July, for an incredible wedding. Lots of memories!


I guess this was graduation year, as several of our grandchildren finished some level of education.


Julia and Jaylene in Burnaby, and Bryce in Atlanta, graduated from High School.

Joel in Atlanta completed trade school as a welder.

Jace in Atlanta graduated from Georgia Tech in computer science.

Hannah (Jace's wife) in Atlanta also graduated from Georgia Tech in chemistry.

And our daughter-in-law, Maia, in Atlanta, graduated from Quinnipiac University with her Doctorate of Nursing Practice. Our first Doctor!


Three years ago, as Covid was hitting, we agreed to be members of the launch team for a new Northview Campus, Central Abbotsford, with Joshua Scott as the Campus Pastor. In spite of the timing, and several "inconveniences" (like someone driving a van into the main entrance of the church we rent, destroying the main entrance and stairs), it worked. Over the last three years, the church has grown from about 50 to 300 most Saturdays. Yes, Saturdays, because the church we rent meets on Sundays. The model is that we meet at 4:30 for dinner, 5:30 for worship, and then 6:45 for dessert. It's created a community that is very, very strong. We had committed to 2 years, but held on for another year because of Covid. After three years, when the worship centre was almost full, we figured it was time for us to return to the main campus, to make room for others to worship at Central Abby.


We've been members and leaders at Northview for over 19 years, and we love it. Many years ago, they started Saturday evening services to make room for more people in the 1000-seat worship centre. Anyone who knows the principles of Church Growth will know that when you are 80% full, you are functionally full, and it impedes further growth. In the spring, we were almost full in both Sunday morning services, and had about 500 on Saturday evenings. To increase our capacity on Sundays, we invited people to attend Saturdays, and even added a second service (4 & 6 pm). So, about 400 people moved from Sundays to Saturdays, and Sunday mornings decreased by only a couple of hundred, as 200 additional people showed up. I guess it's time to ask again!


We are so proud to call Northview home, because it is growing on nothing other than a commitment to excellence, and solid Biblical teaching, as we are encouraged to be deeply rooted in God's Word. When you are based in Scripture, and provide excellence in everything else, God is honoured, and we celebrate.


I guess August was hospital month, as Elsie had her second cataract surgery, and I finally had my shoulder replaced with a reverse implant. After an agonizing night in the hospital (the nerve-block catheter shifted at 3 AM), they got the pain under control, and I went home that afternoon. After physio, I'm getting close to a 100% recovery. It's so fantastic to have no pain in my shoulder, which I injured 8 years ago when I shredded my rotator cuff! Still working on full mobility, but it's getting close!


We also had a great visit with Vada, our Japanese surrogate daughter, who came with her family so her youngest son could participate in a Vancouver baseball camp. Who knows - he might be the next Shoehei Otani! Wouldn't that be something?


November was travel month, as we drove to Portland, since Chris and Anna's son, Coltrane, was performing in the high school musical, "Newsies," even though he's a middle-schooler. It was incredible, but this was a short visit since I was flying to San Antonio three days later. Eight people from Northview (3 elders, 4 pastors, and 1 Immerse MDiv student) were attending the Evangelical Theological Society's annual conference. We stayed in the Crockett hotel (named after you-know-who), which was literally across the street from the Alamo. Remember the Alamo? I never knew what we were supposed to remember until we took the tour. Look it up!


November did end with a health scare for Elsie, but it's all under control, so I don't need to say any more about that.


And… our oldest son, Dave, turned 50! No, I have no idea how that happened.


Oh, I can't leave this out. I've published my first e-book. It's on Amazon Kindle, and it's called "From Success to Significance: Building a Meaningful and Lasting Legacy as a Christian Entrepreneurial Leader."


Christmas was coming, so we headed to Portland for the festivities with our son, Chris, and his family..


As you can tell, there is never a dull moment. With Soul IMPACT, elder responsibilities at Northview including now chairing the Governance Committee, leading a Bible study community group in Chilliwack, being a board member at M2W2 prison member, looking after one another and family matters, it's been a busy year. But that always seems to be the case.


I want to say a huge thank you to all who have joined us on this journey. Thank you for your care, your prayers, and your thoughts. You are greatly appreciated and loved!


I think you know that my purpose is to equip people to hear the Master say, "Well done, good and faithful servant" every day of their lives. I hope we have done that in 2023, and can't want to see what doors the Lord opens in 2024!





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