For the first time in my calling as a pastor, I stayed home on a Sunday I was suppose to preach instead of guiding people through our practice of worship. Due to the winter storm that raced through Indianapolis, worship was postponed until next week. It was an odd feeling sitting at home eating a breakfast of eggs, waffles, grapes, and coffee realizing that I could stay in my pajamas all day if I chose to do so. I guess there is a first time for everything. This was the first time that I ever cancelled a worship service due to weather and the first time that I had a Sunday off when I wasn’t either on vacation, a continuing education event, or deathly ill!
This morning gave me time to consider all the changes that my family and I have gone through over the last 13 months. In the last 13 months, we have moved twice during the season of Advent (once from Illinois to Indianapolis and then from Broad Ripple to Fall Creek Place). We have discovered a whole new rhythm as a family with only one working parent! Thankfully, I believe that my wonderful wife has the harder calling of staying home with the kids than I do pastoring a congregation. I watch her with our kids and I think to myself “wow, she is really gifted with them!”
We have lived through a rental home that had a small rodent issue (mice to be precise), through the challenges of looking for a home, buying a home, renovating said home, and finally moving in! If that sounds crazy, well, it sort of felt crazy for a while. Through this process, I think that we have made an incredible mark on our oldest son who took my wife’s phone to show his friends pictures of the new home and renovation that was underway. These are the exact words of my sweet 5 year old, “Look, that is granite. We have granite counter tops and they are so beautiful!” He so much prefers the DIY network to Barney, but then again, who wouldn’t?
It feels for me and I think for my entire family that we have found a home in Indy. It is feels like a place that we can call home for years to come. We are grateful to have found a place like this and a place where we feel our children will grow up for the next 20 years. The congregation I serve is an amazing collection of quirky and eclectic people. They are diverse in thought, age, and opinions. They are a community with visions and energy and I believe that this upcoming year could help provide a launching pad for the congregation as they live into their dreams and hopes of how they want to live out their calling as faithful followers of Christ. I am so excited to journey with them through this process and I look forward to where God leads us in the future.
Personally, I hope that this year will provide a sense of peace and renewed grounding. Last year was a tough adjustment for all of us. My children had to get comfortable in a new city. My wife had the greatest challenge of transitioning to be a stay-at-home parent and also a volunteer at the co-op daycare that both of our children attend. She has transitioned from being pastor and a pastor’s spouse to being a pastor’s spouse and has done it with so much grace I marvel at her ability to cope with the change so graciously. We both enjoy Indianapolis and I believe we feel grateful to God for calling us to be here.
Change, as difficult as it is, also brought some surprising joys. I know longer had an hour commute to church. I had a 10 minute drive to my office and the shorter drive allowed me time to train and run my first half-marathon! My amazing wife was able to get her first organized bike ride in through the rolling hills of Kentucky! She rode over 100 miles over 2 days. Now that’s crazy!
This year there are more hopes along the way. I start a leadership program through the Tobias Center for Leadership Excellence. I am looking forward to learning from a variety of people from a variety of fields as we all learn how to lead our organizations more effectively. I am looking forward to getting back to work to start mapping out an action plan to live into the dreams the congregation feels called to live into. And I am hoping to live into way of being that allows myself to be more open to all life has to offer.
I was reading a poem written by Carrie Newcomer. And her poem “A Permeable Life” is something that I continue to live into. So I share with you this poem.
A Permeable Life
I want to leave enough room in my heart
For the unexpected,
For the mistake that becomes knowing,
For knowing that becomes wonder,
For wonder that makes everything porous,
Allowing in and out
All available light.
An impermeable life is full to the edges,
But only to the edges.
It is a limited thing.
Like the pause at the center of the breath,
Neither releasing or inviting,
With no hollow spaces
For longing and possibility,
I would rather live unlocked,
And more often than not astonished,
Which is possible
If I am willing to surrender
What I already think I know.
So I will stay open
And companionably friendly,
With all that presses out from the heart
And comes in at a slant
And shimmers just below
The surface of thing
This year, my word for 2014 is presence. I think that the last year was a year filled with distractions. I was racing to keep up with everything that was happening and this year I really want to be attentive to what is happening in my life. Life is about digging deeper and being open to the fullness of it all. Here is to living into the fullness and be present so that I might appreciate it all!