Looking Back & Forward

by Cliff Ravenscraft on January 1, 2005

in Blog

I can hardly believe that 2004 is over. As with every year, there have been some difficult times, some really great times, and yes, even some just so-so times. Overall, I feel that 2004 was a great year for the Ravenscraft's and for me personally. Since 2004 is behind me and 2005 is staring me in the face, I thought I would take some time today to reflect on last year and if I have enough time, perhaps even share with you some of my goals for the new year.
January 2004 was when I served for the very first time at the Fairhaven Rescue Mission. I still remember praying with Roger Anderson that evening. Since January, I've been back several times, bringing new people to serve with me each and every time. Talking with the men at Fairhaven and feeding the homeless in Covington through Servefest has really helped me to count my blessings and to better understand our need to use whatever we have to help others. There's a whole world of people without hope and we have a message that brings that hope. How exciting.
Also in January 2004, Stephanie and I had signed up for Growing Kids God's Way. This 16 week class has really changed our parenting style completely. Our children are much better behaved and we have a greater family bond because of the practical lessons that we learned from this course. I recall one of the week's reading assignments had a cute little story that brought tears to my eyes. I did a blog entry about it titled, “What is Morality?
I can't leave January without mentioning the most read blog entry I've ever typed. I had a close friend of mine tell me that she and a friend were going to be Prayer Partners and asked for some advice on how to make it successful. I took my experience of having a prayer partner for the past six or seven years and did a post titled…”Prayer Partnerships.” Since this entry was posted on January 15th, it has been read by more than 350 people, including people who were searching the topic on Google. I've received so many comments on this entry and I'm so amazed how God has used this simple medium to reach out and help to develop meaningful relationships between so many believers.
February held within it the most exciting event of the year!!! It was the Family Life Marriage Conference called, “A Weekend to Remember!” Stephanie and I had already been married for Seven and a half years when we attended this conference. I was a little excited about attending this conference, but I more excited about a guy's night out poker event that we were going to have the Monday following the conference. However, I never would have guessed that a two and a half day marriage conference could be so life altering. Don't get me wrong, Stephanie and I had a pretty good marriage, we have always been devoted to one another and have benefited from many Cell Group Studies on marriage. Things were going okay in our marriage with an occasional yellow flag from time to time but no real red flags. However, this Weekend to Remember was just that! It revolutionized our marriage and I was so amazed how many of the principles we learned that weekend went hand and hand with the parenting principles that we were learning in Growing Kid's God's Way. This was definitely the event of the year!
After the Marriage Conference, I had to leave my family for two FULL WEEKS to a sales training program called “PaceSetters” for State Auto Mutual in Columbus Ohio. This was a very good experience. There were many benefits of attending this seminar. I received a raise for attending and I gained some valuable new skills that have helped me to be more professional in my career. One of the best benefits is that there is an incentive that anyone who sells 100,000 in written premium over the course of the 12 months of the Pacesetter Program gets an all expenses paid cruise to Mexico. Well, I hit the 100,000 mark quite some time ago and I've also earned $350.00 in Spending Cash for the Cruise with some smaller incentives. They recently announced that anyone who makes it to the 150,000 mark in written premium will be upgraded to a deluxe cabin. I'm at 118,000 now and have about two months to make it the rest of the way.
The Spring and Summer of 2004 was amazing! We purchased a Family Season Pass to Kings Island and we practically lived there on the weekends. All total, I believe we went about twelve times this year. Matthew's favorite ride was the bumper cars and Meagan's favorite ride was the Scooby Doo Mystery Mansion Ride. Looking back, this was an awesome investment in fun and family memories!
Stephanie and I went to Quebec City, Quebec Canada for five days in June. This was an all expenses paid trip from Grange Life Insurance. We missed our children terribly, but we had such a wonderful time together. Stephanie and I will have fond memories of the little Italian Restaurant that we dined at and the very beautiful town of Quebec City.
In September, Stephanie and I found out that we are going to be a family of FIVE in 2005! It was a bit of a shock as this was the first time we were not actually trying to make an addition to our family. It took a while for me to adjust to the idea of changing dirty diapers again, but I've had several months to let the concept sink in and I'm actually starting to get excited about “Baby M.” Stephanie had her ultrasound several weeks ago and we could not tell which sex the baby was. We know that we are going to stick with an M name to go along with Meagan and Matthew. McKenna Jane is the name if we have a girl. If we have a boy, we have not yet settled on a name. Some we are thinking of are “Mason, Micah, Michael, Madison, Marc, Marcus, & Myles. We are still up in the air though. I felt Baby M kick for the first time last night which was pretty exciting.
2004 is now behind us. Meagan is now 5 years old and Matthew is now 3. They are both growing up so fast and I strive toward enjoying these years with them as much as humanly possible. When my children grow up, I want them to have great memories of all the terriffic times we spent together as a family. I believe that 2004 was a year that will provide them with a lot of great memories of how much our family loved each other and spent lots of quality time together.
In 2005, I plan to continue serving at Fairhaven. Stephanie and I are actually “LEADING” a Growing Kids God's Way class for 16 weeks. Stephanie and I are also going BACK to the Family Life Marriage Conference again and I'm looking forward to it more than just about anything else. We are all looking forward to the birth of Baby M some time in April. Because the baby will be so young, Stephanie suggested that I take someone else on my cruise to Mexico with State Auto in July. She didn't think it would be a good idea to take a baby whose immune system is still developing out of the country. So I am excited about the fact that I have chosen to take my Prayer Partner, Robert Johnson with me and I'm looking forward to it being kind of a Spiritual Retreat. The week after I return from my cruise to Mexico, our whole family is packing up the van and heading off for a one week vacation to Washington DC courtesy of Grange Life.
Stephanie and I have sat down and made a list of 30 or so goals that we are going to accomplish in 2005. I'm looking forward to another terriffic year! Keep checking in right here for updates.
Learn from the Past and Plan for the Future! In Christ press on!!
Happy New Year!

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