In reviewing the many things this past year for which I am grateful, I would be remiss to leave out the trials. After all, it is the hard times much more than the good times which cause us to grow in maturity (James 1:2-4) and allow us to comfort others with more than shallow platitudes. (2 Cor. 1:3-7)

The first significant trial of the year was the death of my father-in-law in January. He suffered from Alzheimer’s  dementia so in many ways the bulk of the trial came in the previous several years, but final passing brings both joy and significant pain. He was a husband and father, first, who loved and led his family well. Second, he was an accomplished high school football coach who won 3 state championships but more importantly profoundly affected the lives of countless young men. Even knowing his legacy, I was astounded to hear not only the number of testimonies but the degree of his influence. I am thankful to be his son-in-law and to be married to his daughter. It was also a privilege for my sons to know and be influenced by him. Recently, a resolution was read before a joint session of the Tennessee General Assembly honoring Mr. Patterson. It concluded with these fitting words: “Whereas it is fitting that this General Assembly should pause to remember the bountiful life of this exceptional educator and human being. Be it resolved that we honor the memory of Coach Marshall H. Patterson reflecting fondly upon his impeccable character and stalwart commitment to living the examined life with courage and conviction.” As I make plans and set goals for a new year, it is helpful to reflect on a life well lived and give thanks.