It's been a while since I've had the opportunity to write a column in this space. So many things have happened since my last update, and for the most part, those developments have been better than I could have ever imagined.
There have been some sad moments along the way as well, but on the whole, I feel like this has been one of the most pivotal and significant years of my life.
I suppose the biggest change in my life in recent months came at the end of March, when my wife and I bought our first house. Aside from getting a great deal on the place, I feel tremendously blessed to know the truly unique feeling which comes from owning a home.
Certainly, we've had to experience some growing pains since the day we signed the papers for the house. First, there was the realization that we were purchasing a foreclosure property, and we had a lot of work to do in order to make the house truly ours. Then, of course, there were plumbing problems, air-conditioning issues and the knowledge that the grass in my yard really does have to be cut every two weeks.
But, even with all those added headaches, I didn't mind, because it is my house, and the place my wife and I will be raising our family when the time comes. We still have a lot of work to do on the house, but whatever I have to do in order to make it work is completely worthwhile.
As I said at the outset of this writing, the last several months have included their share of pain and heartache. We lost my uncle to cancer in January.
Not only was he a man, who people say I resemble the most in my family, but he was also someone who I grew up knowing pretty well. He wasn't one of those relatives who I rarely ever saw or spent time with.
As a result of his death, my mom is now without her parents or her only sibling. Such a realization makes me think about what life would be like, if the people to whom I am closest were gone.
I do a horrible job of conveying my love for my parents, my older brother and my younger sister most of the time. But knowing each moment could truly be my last - or their last - changes a person's priorities.
That brings me to another of the year's positive developments, the birth of my third nephew in June. Knowing my own uncle never had the opportunity to meet him, and will not get to see him and his brothers grow up, I want to make even more of an effort to be the best uncle I can be for all three of those little children.
Speaking of little children, I cannot write this column without saying something about the newest development in my life. This week, my wife and I completed our first session as Sunday School teachers to a group of four-year-olds.
When I was approached a few weeks ago about the prospect of our teaching the class, I wanted to accept the offer immediately, but I knew I had to talk to my wife first. We had a few questions to consider. Could we commit to the amount of time required by such a task? Were we the right people to be put in charge of those kids, considering we don't have any of our own?
The answers to those questions came fairly easily. Yes, we could commit to the time we would need, to plan and carry out the lesson.
Although we don't have kids at this time, we hopefully will. In the meantime, my wife and I have a deep love for the children whose parents we worship with every Sunday. As for whether we deserve to teach this class, it is obvious we don't. We could never deserve to be blessed with such an awesome responsibility, but God has given us this opportunity, and I want to honor Him in how I respond to that calling.
I don't deserve to teach the Sunday School class. I don't deserve the house I live in, the nephews I will get to watch growing up, or the 34 years I had with my uncle. I don't deserve to be writing a column, but until such a time when God calls me elsewhere, I want Him to be glorified with every word.
Jason A. Smith covers crime and courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.