Exhausted, but Hopeful

One of the students this morning said I looked exhausted and asked if I was okay.  I thought I was covering it up by not wearing a t-shirt and yoga pants, by wearing real adult clothes – slacks, a cardigan, a statement necklace.  Apparently, it didn’t work. Yesterday was Senior Sunday and also a celebration for Ryan and I.  It was perfect.  I read the scrapbook the students and staff made me yesterday afternoon.  My eyes were red and puffy from happy tears and memories.  I announced yesterday evening where we’ll be going.  We are excited to let the world know, I was appointed to Point Hope UMC in Mt. Pleasant.  Since HOPE is such a large part of my story, I was thrilled it had it in the name!  We are thrilled to be in ministry with the people there.  We’ll be living and the kids will go to school in the same neighborhood the church is in.  Fingers crossed about the house.  I awoke this morning to several things we had to get together for our loan documents.  After I got those together, I turned on my iTunes and this song by Chris Rice came on.  Stirring my soul to holiness.

I hear a sound and turn to see
A new direction on that rusty weather vane
Suddenly the dead brown leaves are stirred
To scratch their circle dances down the lane

And now the sturdy oaks start clappin
With the last few stubborn leaves that wont let go
I can hear Old Glory snappin
And her tattered rope now clangin against the pole

And my breath is snatched away
And a chill runs up my spine
Feels like somethins on the way
So I look up to the sky, I look up to the sky

And from the corners of creation
Comes the Fathers holy breath
Ridin on a storm with tender fierceness
Stirring my soul to holiness, stirring my soul to holiness

I see the lifeless dust now resurrected
Swirling up against my window pane
And carried cross the distance
Come the long awaited fragrances of earth and rain

And out across the amber field
The slender grasses bend and bow and kiss the ground
And in them I see the beauty of the souls
Who let the spirit lay them down

And it takes my breath away
And a tear comes to my eye
Feels like somethins on the way
So I look up to the sky, I look up to the sky

And from the corners of creation
Comes the Fathers holy breath
Ridin on a storm with tender fierceness
Stirring my soul to holiness, stirring my soul to ho-holiness

And like a mighty wind blows with a force I cannot see
I will open wide my wings, I will open wide my wings
I will open wide my wings and let the spirit carry me, yeah, yeah

From the corners of creation
Comes the Fathers holy breath
Ridin on a storm with tender fierceness
Stirring my soul to holiness, stirring my soul to holiness
Stirring my soul to ho-holiness

I hear a sound and turn to see
A new direction on that rusty weather vane

Psalm 96

O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.

Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples.

For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods.

For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.

Honor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts.

Worship the Lord in holy splendor; tremble before him, all the earth.

Say among the nations, “The Lord is king! The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity.”

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it;

let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy

before the Lord; for he is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.

Amen.  Let it be that God stirs all of our souls to holiness and may we see God’s tangible reminders that we REST in HOPE.

The Power of Prayer

Intentional Prayer Time at International Justice Mission
I was reading some blog posts yesterday and one of the commentators asked another if he had prayed about a particular situation going on at his church. She wasn’t seeming to say it in a “jesus juke” fashion of trying to make him look/feel bad or in a way that said look at me the better Christian, but in a real, practical and honest way. It struck me at the time and I read the comment again. It began to challenge me as we live into the present and future of our personal lives, families, ministries, vocations, churches, etc. Have we – several times a day – intentional asked God to show us and lead us and guide us?

I admit that I am better at that sometime than others. I try to read my email version of the Upper Room when I get to the office every morning and I am one of those sometimes rare people that really like Christian music so I often listen to it in the car. I often have a pretty good indicator on how I’m feeling in connection to God by how often I steer clear of the Christian music stations or how often I just skim or delete the devotional. It’s not that I’m intentionally saying – I want some distance between me and God right now. But whether I articulate it that way or not, in many ways that’s what I’m doing.

For me, when I realize that there’s some space there, it’s gut check time. What’s going on that I’m not acknowledging? What’s my hesitation? Why am I not sleeping at night?

In our lives right now we’re busting at the seams with worries. We’ve been getting moving estimates this week and juggling boxes, pick up times, and delivery is awesome. The kids have a two week break between the end of their preschool regular school year and the first summer session and Enoch asks every day why I can’t stay at home on vacation and not go to work. Enjoying the kids for two weeks while keeping the house clean and spotless and ready for someone to do a showing – super stressful. Wondering if people will see the house and want to buy it or if we’re going to juggle payments or end up renting – not for the faint of heart. Realizing that I only have a couple more weeks in the office to get everything settled here and to be emotionally, spiritually, and physically ready to begin a new adventure – baby steps.

It’s a lot.

But I know that we don’t go into this alone. And I know that we are not helpless in facing life’s joys and challenges.

Sometimes I just want to avoid the weight of the pressure and the huge emotion that goes with being personally invested in this crazy ministry that has been more than a job or a ministry but a home and community for over a decade.

Yet God is there, waiting and ready to offer what I need. A random facebook comment to point me in the right direction. Jars of Clay’s “Shelter” coming on my itunes reminding me that “in the shelter of each other is where the people live.” So instead of ducking my head in the sand and being in denial for a bit longer, it’s time to make a list of prayers. Not worries. But prayers. That I will intentionally pray for throughout the day.

1. That our house sells.
2. The Enoch will love his new school and that he will have a great teacher and kindergarten class. That he will make friends and that he’ll continue to do well with his speech and language since he had a delay and worked super hard here so won’t do speech in Florida.
3. That we’ll find a good preschool for Evy and that there will be room for her to join one of the classes. That she’ll make friends and will continue to excel at school.
4. That the actual move will go well. That the estimates are not too crazy much. That everything gets there and transporting us, the kids, the cats and everything else will go well.
5. That Mike will find a church music job and can do what he’s passionate about!
6. Winthrop Wesley and the transition
7. Gator Wesley and the transition

There’s more but I’m sticking with this list – Mike, Enoch, Evy, House, Move, the two Wesley’s.

God help me to remember to come to you and to seek you. Help us to remember to open ourselves to your Word for us and that we can urgently come to you in prayer. Amen.

I Want to Go Home

There’s something about that saying, “I want to go home.”  We’ve been at the beach this past week with my fam and the kids had a blast playing in the ocean and the pool and going to the inlet to see Aunt Guyeth and catch crabs and play with Nemo the dog.  It was a great week.  But it’s funny, every time Enoch would get tired or cranky or even not get his way, he would say, “I want to go home.”

Now that didn’t mean that he really wanted to go home.  We would ask him if he wanted to pack everything up and get in the car, and of course he said no.  But there’s something about saying, “I want to go home.”

This past Wednesday parsonage families across the South Carolina Annual Conference moved.  These families are always close to my heart during this time of year because I remember how that was as a preacher’s kid in a parsonage family myself.  I don’t attempt to speak for all preacher’s kids because we all have different experiences and see things differently, but for me “home” was a big concept.

In the early years, my two brothers and I were sent to our grandparents house while Mom and Dad moved everything from one house to another.  They would set up our rooms with the our “stuff” and toys in them and it would feel a little more like home by the time we got there.  In one of these first houses, apparently I wrote my name and our phone number on the mattress in my bedroom in case it got lost.  I didn’t realize that not even the bed came with us and this was a running joke for the family that came after us.

We’ve gone down the road of explaining to people, yep, in our church one family moves out in the morning and another family moves into the parsonage in the afternoon.  For some reason, that’s a hard one for people to get.  It is a little strange.

As we got older we knew that when Mom started playing Steven Curtis Chapman’s “For the Sake of the Call” that we better get ready to move.  The Spring around the Cabinet convening time was always a time of anticipation/nervousness/fear that this would be the year when we moved.  And different families do this so many different ways in terms of how it’s communicated to kids, how the transition is made, how much of your own furniture goes, preparing the child to move, etc.

Now I want say that every move was great.  Or that every transition was smooth.  Or that each of us felt the same way about each place we lived.  There were definitely highs and lows and everything in between at each place.  But however we were taught to understand it, we knew that we were moving and that this wasn’t just something that was Dad’s job – it was his calling and that God would take care of us too.  Does that mean everything was always sunny and rosy?  Nope.  But I think I can speak for Josh and Caleb as well when I say that we wouldn’t be the people we are today if not for all of these experiences.

Even those times when we would say, “I want to go home.”  And that home be a house that now had another family living in it at our old church.  Some clergy couple friends have said that their daughter is having a hard time saying goodbye to her friends and her school and I totally get that.  It’s hard and tough and not fun.  And not all of us cope well.  Not everyone makes new friends easily and wants to leave the old town behind, but I think there are a great many of us that learn some things about ourselves along the way – making new friends, being able to talk to a wide variety of people, seeing different places and different communities and how different churches work, and all sorts of things that are just engrained.

So blessings on those this week in between “homes” and trust that not just home is where the heart is but home is also where you make it and how you create it.  Even if it’s the one picture hung on the wall or that one stuffed animal or everyone being together.  May we know and trust that our home is with God and that it’s not just something we cling to when we’re scared or angry or things aren’t going our way, but is something that is eternal and can’t be taken from us.  May we feel it and may we know it.

Prayer for Moving Preacher’s Kids

Lord Jesus, please bless all of these children moving this week whether they’re toddlers to teenagers.  Give them peace and strength and courage as they move from place to place.  Help the move be an easy one.  Give them the friends that they need and the comforts and hope they need for them to feel at home.  Create a haven and shelter for them in this new place and a community of faith and support to surround them and lift them in this time of transition and uncertainty.  Provide the teachers, youth leaders, people that will give them that word of encouragement and will nurture and help them grow into the people you created them to be.  Give their parents strength and clarity and the rest they need to not only be pastors and leaders but also spouses and parents.  Give them the time and priorities and balance of both church and family and the vision and tenacity to know what needs to happen when.  Help these families find the special things that they need and locate the right box or restaurant or grocery store or park.  Give them not just a physical house, but a real and spiritual home.  Help make their way easier and for them to know and trust in your providence and love for them.  Surround them in your grace and peace that they may be wrapped in your mercies anew each day.  In your name we pray.  Amen.