Tuesday, June 24, 2014

This Time Last Year

On this day last year, we lived in Tennessee.  We had just arrived and were settling in to our little house on Cherry Street.  I was barely pregnant with Jude, and we still had the freedom to go and do things without a thought of nap time and feeding times.  We were thoroughly enjoying the cool summer days that allowed front porch sitting and new town exploring.  We drove over to Tusculum College and walked across their lovely green campus.  We stopped across the street at the Creamy Cup for some Blue Bell ice cream, thankful that Blue Bell made it to Tennessee before we moved there.  We were happy and hopeful.  We were loving our new town, our new church, and the people in it.

It feels like a thousand years ago.  I am now a mom.  I live in Delaware.  I work at a daycare teaching three year olds.  We are working to help plant a church near Philadelphia.  Some days it feels like our ten months in Tennessee wasn't real.

Someone asked me recently, "Why all the moving around?".  And I didn't answer.  Because I don't really know.  Ministry is a funny thing.  You move somewhere to partner with a pastor, with a church body, and you plan on staying a while.  On putting down roots.  On buying a house maybe.  But things happen.  Things change.  Or maybe they don't change and no one wants to do anything differently from the way it has been done before.  And the difficulty in ministry is that you can't communicate everything you know.  It's the way you maintain your integrity.  It's the way you protect the reputation of others.  So you move on.  And you don't always get to explain.

You can say that God is moving.  And I haven't decided yet how accurate that is.  Because I think God gets blamed for a lot of stuff He didn't do.  Yet He is sovereign, so surely He knew it was coming.  But still.  People have choices to make, and churches are made up of people.  So God is not altogether responsible.

In both of our moves, to our church in McKinney, Texas and to East Tennessee, we have had dreams for those churches.  We have envisioned God doing big things.  It's an exciting thing to begin a ministry in a new church.  We dream of growth and revival and change, in us and in others.  It's unsettling to move on from something without seeing the change you hoped for.  Without seeing fruit.  It's sad to feel like it's over too soon.  And there is always a need for mourning the loss of that dream.

And so I guess that's where I am tonight.  I am just sad.

I miss all of the things that could have been but never were.

I miss the sweet friends I met along the way.

I miss our church in a storefront in Texas and our haunted church building in Tennessee.

I miss being a children's pastor.

I miss fresh eggs and jars of homegrown green beans (Jim and Cindy Walter, I'm talking to you here).

So Texas and Tennessee, I miss you.  You are not forgotten.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hey Jude... My Dad, Your Dad (The Five Month Edition)

My dad is your papa. You will come to know him as the man that sits you on his lap and sings Shortenin' Bread, plays Pat-a-Cake, and lifts you up into the air to play elevator. I already do these things with you, but Papa is the original and he does it better. Those things are his specialty. You will also come to know him as the man behind a pulpit. He is a preacher, and I imagine he will be forever. If you have a question about Jesus or the Bible, your dad and I can give you some answers, but your Papa is the man to go to. He is wise and deep, and he has dedicated his life to knowing God and to knowing the answers. Those two are not the same thing, by the way. And knowing God is far more important than knowing the answers. If you do the first, God will do the second. He will show Himself to you. 

Papa is a man of huge faith. He obeyed God when it didn't make sense. When people told him he was too old or had too many kids. And when doors were closed in his face, he prayed and God opened them up again. He has been faithful in times when many would have given up and walked away. He doesn't waste time defending against what people may say- and people will always have something to say- because the truth defends itself. 

My dad is also a giver. He taught me to tithe and to give to missions. He showed me by example that honoring God with your money was the best way to live. It's all God's anyway. My dad may have a tough exterior at times, but he is the first to give when someone has a need. He gave me confidence, and I never believed that I couldn't do something. He just treated me like I was capable, so I believed I was. 

Your papa loves you, kiddo. You are number twelve grandchild to come along, and he still gets a little teary over you. You are just as important and special as the first one. 

Then there's your dad. When I met him, he mentioned something about not being sure he wanted kids. And I let him know really quickly that no kids was not an option for me. He changed his mind pretty quickly. And I'm so glad he did. 

When you were born, your dad had never changed a diaper. But he dove right into fatherhood, taking the first diaper change that was necessary. He listened as the nurse told him what to do. He wanted to be involved in parenting you. He is just that way. 

Your dad is very thoughtful. He is always one step ahead of me these days. In cloth diaper laundry, in regular laundry. He packs your diaper bag and folds your clothes. He works to make our life easier. And so those moments where you and I get to sit in the rocking chair and sing and laugh, those are made possible because your dad is serving us in these other ways. 

Your dad is very thorough. He is careful to do things well, no matter what he is doing. From mowing the grass to leading worship on Sunday morning. He gives his all. I hope you learn this trait from him. It will serve you well. 

Like my dad, your dad loves Jesus. He loves to study his Bible. He is very disciplined with this. He loves to worship and to lead people to worship. He is a talented musician and I pray that you will learn to love Jesus and music like he does. 

Your dad loves you, buddy. I don't think either one of us were prepared for how much we would love you. It's taken us a little by surprise. He shows it in different ways than I do.  He kisses your face and makes you whine a little with his beard.  And then he does it some more. He looks forward to wrestling with you because I won't let him do it just yet.  It's a tougher, manlier kind of love.  

But you are blessed.  You don't know how blessed you are.  You come from a line of men who love their families and who love Jesus.  When your dad and I pray with you each night, we pray that you will be the same.  That you will love Jesus and know Him and that you will be saved when the time of understanding comes.  That you will choose this same life for yourself.  You have wonderful examples.  I pray you love them like I do.    


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