The last decade was a roller coaster for me. Of all the previous decades, 2010-2019 was the toughest time I ever had in my life. The lowest lows and the highest highs. So what I would like to do is give you a glimpse of my last decade through the pictures I took.
The first thing I learned is that I didn’t really start taking pictures until about 2012. This means that the lowest time of my life has no pictures to accompany it. The decade started with my divorce. It was rough. I was married for 18 years and it ended pretty rough.
I moved out of a large home on 5 acres and into a small rental home that was built in the 1940s that was freezing in the winter and deathly hot in the summer. I would get the kids every other weekend and the occasional holiday.
It was rough, but thanks to the men at the church I was attending, they brought me back to Christ. By 2012, I became a deacon at that same church. And a little later that year I was asked to lead the mission journey to Peru.
That was one of the most impactful trips I ever took in my life. I learned that even though I was going through a rough patch in my life, it couldn’t compare to the lives that many of the people in Peru were leading.
This would be the first of many trips to Peru over the course of the decade, which you will see more pictures later.
Since I worked at Whole Foods Market, I was able to take several trips throughout the decade to coffee farms throughout the world. I was able to see some of the most beautiful farms and meet a lot of great people.
Throughout the early part of the decade, I spent time simply getting to know my kids again. Working for Whole Foods Market, I was required to travel a lot. There were some years that I was traveling 45 weeks out of the year.
So I took the opportunity to do all the crazy stuff with Matt that I didn’t have a chance to do earlier. We would hang out, go to DC United soccer games, and practice his soccer skills.
In 2013 I became an elder at Chesapeake Christian Fellowship. The same men that built me up are the same ones in this picture ordaining me to become an elder.
Then, early in the decade, I also took a trip around the United States with my kids. I took 3 weeks vacation, turned in all my stock options, and rented an RV and traveled around the United States. It was during this time that I not only got some great time with the kids, but I met a woman who would go on to make a major impact in my life. You see, it was during the trip around the United States that I officially met Mimi Baker (now Mimi Noble). We had spoken online for about 3-6 months prior, but had no idea what each other were really like.
As I sat on the side of a lake while both our children were playing in the water, I got to know her and realized that God was showing me the woman I would eventually call my wife.
In 2014 Kenzi went to her first middle school dance. I couldn’t believe how much she had grown up.
That same year, I was able to start seeing Mimi much more often. She moved to Virginia and then eventually, after I moved out of the little rental home and into another one, she moved into the rental home. We were only 15 minutes apart now, not a couple thousand miles.
In 2014, as the relationship between Mimi and I grew, we decided to make our first purchase as a couple even though we still didn’t live in the same house. We got a dog. Funny thing is that the dog’s name is Peru. We didn’t give her that name, she was given that name at the pound. Mimi and I had gone to Peru a couple of times by 2014 already and she had fallen in love with the country and the people there as much as I had.
In 2015, I realized that I had fallen head over heels in love with Mimi Baker and I asked her to marry me.
SHE SAID YES!!!
Later in 2015, we went back to Peru. It was this year that I totally screwed my back up. A few months later in 2016 I would be going back in for back surgery.
I love serving side by side with Mimi! She has such a tender heart for people and a great work ethic.
Also in 2015, Kenzi would be playing her final year in sports. From this point forward she would be focusing on her photography and art.
When we got back from Peru in 2015, Mimi and I had finished having a home built and we moved into it. We made God the promise that if He were to give us the house, we would use the extra bedrooms to house missionaries and people who were in need. Since we made that promise, we had a whole bunch of children who were rescued around the globe and were now part of a national concert tour, we have had several young adults stay with us, we had a young woman who was lost and has since become a missionary to the nations, and we have housed several other missionaries from around the world.
2016 saw Mimi and I heading back to Peru and spending more time there with the people. We would meet Paige and Stalin, a couple missionaries, one from America and the other indigenous. They will become more important to us as the decade continues.
I was also, beginning in 2015, but really by 2016, learning how to be a stepdad. Being both dad and stepdad is a very challenging thing. Each of the kids are so different, and their backgrounds are tough to bring together.
Also in 2016, my little girl, Kenzi, got her first job. She would be a junior counselor at the local church camp in the summers. This would become a job she would love and grow with throughout the rest of the decade.
2017 came in and was immediately rough. My mom was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer. From the time she was diagnosed until the time she went home to be with Lord was only a matter of weeks. My mom was born on Easter Sunday and she died on Easter Sunday.
But a week before Easter, my mom wanted to make a big dinner for her own birthday. It would be the last time that all of us would see her alive.
We went back to Peru later that year and enjoyed a great time there with the people we served as well as the people who joined us on the journey.
Ryan had a great year. He was on the JV baseball team and was doing very well.
Ryan also received plenty of awards academically in 2017.
Also in 2017, Mimi’s oldest daughter, Brieanne, married the most amazing young man ever. Hopefully he will continue to make foods with Old Bay in them, so I can continue to respect him. 😉
Also in 2017 I undertook my largest home improvement project I ever did, I built a patio, with my 75 year old dad.
Matt got his first job in 2017 selling fish and crabs.
And he decided to switch things up a little and play football. He was actually very good! But he didn’t like all the pain his body felt after each practice and game.
I took the kids white water rafting in 2017.
Kenzi had her first art show where she sold her photos.
Jacob graduated high school in 2017.
At the end of 2017 we had the opportunity to take everyone to Disney.
And, in 2017, Jacob got his first car, a 40th anniversary Mustang.
In 2018, Kenzi graduated from high school.
Those same missionaries, Paige and Stalin, would come to DC and spend almost 2 weeks with us. We took them on the tour of the area.
Also in 2018, which was a good year for Kenzi, she won several awards at a local art show and won over $100,000 in scholarships to college.
In 2018, I wanted to give Mimi an opportunity she was talking about for a long time. She had always wanted to take a horse drawn carriage through Central Park in NYC. We decided to do that and it was just as magical as we through it would be.
In 2018, Kenzi started college at McDaniel in MD.
Mimi’s and my final trip (for now) to Peru would be in 2018. It was such a beautiful trip and we fell in love even more with the people of Peru.
At the end of 2018 and really starting in 2019, I left the retail/restaurant world and went into ministry as Director of Ministries for Friendship Community Baptist Church in southern MD. I was sad to leave my church home of 16 years, but in order to keep growing, change is required. And this change has been such a good fit for me and my family.
In 2019, Matt and I had the opportunity to take a skiing/snowboarding trip. It didn’t end so well because the friend that came with us hit his head on one of the final runs of the day and got a pretty bad concussion.
2019 saw Mimi’s aunt Becky going home to be with Lord. But before that happened, Mimi got spend a lot of great time with her in Minnesota, almost a month.
Also in 2019 Mimi decided to start farming Monarch butterflies. Apart from having a few endings that were not so desirable, most of the Monarchs were grown from egg and released into the wild.
2019 was also Matt’s final year of soccer. He had been playing soccer with many of the same boys since he was 5 years old. It was great to see him be able to finish his high school soccer life with those kids.
In 2019, Friendship Community Baptist sponsored 5 homes in the county and did construction projects on them. We did everything from adding gutters, replacing windows and doors, and installing hot water heaters.
Also in 2019, Friendship Community Baptist did 6,208 boxes for Operation Christmas Child. A church of 200 doing 6,208 boxes is a pretty amazing feat!
We have made a lot of friends at Friendship Community Baptist. Our small group had a Christmas gathering at one of the houses and we enjoyed a wonderful time of fellowship.
The Christmas gift that Mimi got me was given to me early, concert tickets for Tran Siberian Orchestra. It was an amazing concert! Not exactly Mimi’s favorite music, but I was in heaven!
Also at the end of the year we started going to concerts with my dad. This one was in DC, the military Christmas concert.
Wasn’t exactly on our financial plan for this time, but Mimi’s car decided to die. We ended up purchasing a new-to-us 2015 Mazda.
Christmas service at Friendship Community Baptist reached almost 300! Not only that, but God blessed us with 20 baptisms and several Gospel encounters throughout the year.
This is the picture I will end this with. My Christmas gift for the end of the decade was ending it with a woman who truly loves me and cares so deeply for me.
So there you have it. My last decade in a few short pictures. A lot happened last decade! I can only imagine what will happen in the 20’s.