Thanks, Winter

Back in Print

I took a month off from obsessively uploading my thoughts onto the internet. It was a pretty good break, but I do have to confess that there’s a little bit of rust to knock off of my mental joints.

Forgive me if I spin wheels a little before I really get close to making a point.

Of course I might not make one. I do kind of miss telling stories and not every story has a point right away.

A lot of everything started over a month ago now when one of the applications for ministry positions returned some interest. It was definitely one of those moments where I threw up my hands and laughed a little. The info that they were looking for someone with my exact pedigree (well mostly) did not come from any of the hordes of job advertisement sites, or ministry job postings, or any of the other people who have questionably legitimate placement authority.

It came from my mom, and a friend of her friend.

Because they did not have a highly boring online advertisement, I wrote what probably amounts to the queen mother of cover letters. Too much, I would hazard, but we found ourselves in a room talking a week later, nonetheless. The pastor apologized for the slow speed of communication, and I had to negate his apology with appreciation for any communication at any speed. In any case, it was much faster than everyone else who had called back. Within a week, I called everyone else quite nervously, informing them that we had found a place.

But we were still two weeks away from affirming the position through the proper process.

But I knew.

And so did they.

So do we.

This is my people now.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Super Civilian Adult

The strangest thing about going into a civilian ministry now is absolutely detaching from the military way of doing ministry.

-Barring life change or some sort of fallout, the children I see running about in the highly effective children’s ministry will be under my guidance in a few short years.

-Social structuring is much more nuanced than a system that assigns actual rank to those employed by the government. There are still movers and shakers and those who back them up a hundred and crazy percent, but they no longer wear the insignia attesting to the extent which Uncle Sam trusts them with men and materials. Not that that is always the best indicator…

-I have a denomination now which is much more specific than “not-Catholic.” It does not cause quite the scandal that you might think, a heretofore non-Baptist leading the youth ministry and worship ministry of a Baptist church, but the search committee was faithful to the body they represented and gave me every opportunity to hang myself with my ecumenical word rope.

-I have permission to go into the supply closet. I know that sounds weird, but I’ve been some places where the supply closet bearing cups, plates, flatware, and the like were holy ground only accessibly by those enlisted men and women authorized to enter and restock. We had a lock-in recently and when I asked if we had permission to get cups from the supply closet, the team mate walking with me just sort of cocked his head and then I remembered. Oh yeah. I’m one of the three members of a pastoral staff. I can get cups.

-I have authority to obligate the church to a financial contract for services rendered. That one still makes me get the jibblies. We’re taking students to camp and I’m the adult who gets to do the adulting to adult us into an adult relationship with these other adults who help us be Christian adults to these students.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

What a Great Burger

So you know what question I get asked a lot when speaking with friends new and old? If they are from Texas, it’s, “How are you liking Texas?”

I know this is a test and so far I think I’m answering the question wrong.

Frankly, I love it here. The sunsets are wild, the speed limit is super high, gas, which I consume like crazy, is much cheaper. My parents are very close as are all of my sisters.

But people ask knowing that I came from Hawaii. It’s like eating steak, and being known for doing so, for five years straight and then eating burger with people who love burgers. They know that a steak is supposed to be superior to the burger because society has told us that.

Except, sometimes I don’t want steak. Sometimes I want a juicy, greasy, slathered in almost cheese, blessed with some mystery sauce, topped with jalapeƱos, and cooked almost all the way through. And fries that serving them could arguably be skewed as assault and battery because they are so tasty and full of heart stopping greasy goodness.

And the moment when asked how I like today’s burger in lieu of yesterday’s steak does them both a disservice.

I loved Hawaii. It was beautiful and a hundred different things that are their own separate posts. The greatest thing I miss from my time there is the one thing that was not constant in the land of eternal summer.

Almost all of the friends whose company I enjoyed there have all moved on. A few remain, but most have, themselves, found new shores, and new climates.

It’s cold here. I don’t love that.

It might snow here. My children will adore that.

But there are a hundred slivers of God’s grace poured out through this place that daily blossom like sunflowers, which we run around as much as possible, trying to sniff them up and enjoy them, savoring the newness and richness there.

I love Hawaii.

I love Texas.

They are not mutually exclusive.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Far Horizons

So what’s coming?

Tomorrow makes one year since we found out that Leo’s blood was rebelling against him. It’s been one year in the fight. We talked about going out and celebrating but the entire house is recovering from half of us getting sick twice.

Thanks winter.

Judah turns 1 a few days later.

And a week from Monday, I start seminary classes. I already have my books and they are beefy. I’ve peeked at the syllabus for each class and shuddered slightly at the page length requirement of each assignment.

I mean, in a way, it’s a relief because I won’t have to savage the points I make by paring the papers down anymore. The biggest complaint I had last semester was that I exceeded page restrictions.

I’m going to start blogging on a weekly basis specifically about the music we’re doing on Sundays. Sometimes it will be about specific songs, others it will be about how the songs combine together. Mostly, it’s what I’m thinking about when we are assigning the songs during the week so that I don’t feel compelled to monologue at the congregation about something that could be read about before.

Don’t get me wrong, if the Holy Spirit says “say things and don’t sing” then that’s what we’re doing. But the church has a man in charge of preaching. They don’t need a minor sermon before a major one.

I’m starting youth ministry again with an extraordinary group with great challenges and exceptional potential.

We’re beginning an outreach within the local schools. Outreach: as in serve the needs they have, not look for the needs I’m good at serving within my own walls.

Desiree and I are beginning a writing project together. We’re keeping it to ourselves for a bit, but it’s what we’re doing.

And finally, we are going to move from the Little Elm area closer to our church which is in the H.E.B. area.

Some time ago, I began a lifestyle which included a monthly letter about how much God had blown my mind through ministry. I guess it’s a good habit, but it’s definitely something I’ve longed to get back into doing. For those of you who pray for us, I’m definitely going to continue writing. Our conversations are a treasure to me, but if you want to read about it, you’ll find it here under the category “Just Us.” It’ll be stories about ministry and living and learning.

Life paused for just a moment while we breathed (and hacked, and sneezed, and snotted… thanks winter) a little slower through Christmas. But I can hear the gears of life beginning to warm and move forward. May the blessing of tomorrow’s hope spur today’s purpose and resolve. May yesterday’s lessons clarify today’s tactics. May today’s work bring you joy and contentment and rest.

And at the end of your day, whether you eat a steak or a hamburger, may you enjoy it with someone who knows how to spell your name and knows about the boat or the horse you rode in on.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Categories: Just Us

2 Comments

  1. Genie Brainerd

    “They don’t need a minor sermon before a major one.” I couldn’t have said it better. That was one thing that used to bug me with worship leaders in the chapel community – the ones that felt that they needed to sermonize. Your people will appreciate that you get that.

    Looking forward to the work you and Desiree produce together.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And I think there’s a fine line. There have been times when worship leaders have absolutely enhanced the moment by speaking into it. There have been other moments when the absolute best choice would have been absolute quiet to let the quiet voice of God speak in each listening heart.

      Like

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