I don’t have a good reason for not posting yesterday. The day got away from me as I again awoke to tackle our house filled with little projects. By the time I really sat down I was too exhausted to do anything, but watch CBS’s Big Brother, my summer guilty pleasure. As of today, I’m adding blogging to that daily to-do list that I have been tallying in my head.
- Hang full-length mirror and framed pictures in guest room
- Choose paint for study and paint it
- Unpack china
- Deep clean freezer and extra fridge
- Find a “entertainment center” that I love and can afford
- Sign up for home owners insurance
- Clean blinds… I think I might wait for a certain mother from Georgia to visit to help me with this one.
And the list goes on and on. I don’t remember it ever taking me so long to “set up” house before, but I think it’s a matter of having just blocked out the whole process of unpacking and choosing where to put things like a mother who doesn’t remember the pain of birth. You see I’m working on those comparisons again in honor of my inner 12 year old who wanted to be a writer. [smile]
In the midst of unpacking, I’m also trying to still focus on living into our new situation. I’ve been joining Caleb for his visits to some of the active members of our church. While it takes a little will power to pull myself away from whatever project I’ve been working on, I have so much enjoyed the opportunity to get to know these new friends better. Added bonus: I’m finally beginning to feel more confident about names and relationships between members of the church. Learning names has probably been one of my biggest worries with this move. I’ve never been very good at remembering names unless of course it was necessary for a history test and I’m sorry to say that I think those names really only stuck with me for 24 – 48 hours. [smile] I’m so much better with broad concepts or remembering where I’ve seen someone before.
As a preacher’s kid, I didn’t feel the same push to learn names that I do know that I’m the preacher’s wife and I promise that I’m really working on the name learning this time. While unpacking a box in the kitchen or bedroom and definitely as soon as I show up for a church event, I begin to go through the tally of names I’m building:
- Mary Ruth and Phil
- Christine and Luther
- Emily, Ben, Lilly and Eden
- Ernie and Gail
- Gary and Glenda
- Vicky and Gary
And the list goes on and on. It feels like a bit of a balancing act to keep all of these lists running around in my mind all the time. Goodness I do hope all my running lists don’t somehow collide. It could result in some very amusing conversations. Any advice for managing either list is most appreciated.
Our move day has been pushed back to a week from today. While I’m bummed we’ll be in transition for another week, I am also very grateful that the church’s parsonage committee is being so proactive in preparing the house for our arrival. What a blessing and a tangible expression of their desire to welcome us into their community! [smile] I know that I have said it before, but we really are so excited to begin ministry at “The Church.” We’ve discussed about how we really need a find a different word to describe how we are feeling. We’ve probably said “we are excited” about a million times in the last month, but no other words seem to capture the anticipation and joy that we both feel when we think about the future we are moving toward.
On Sunday we met a retired minister and his wife who are members of my dad’s new church. When we shared that we were about to take our first appointment they responded that “your first appointment is always special. Every church will be special, but that first church is particularly so.” My parents and grandparents have all suggested the same in our conversations with them over the last month. When the subject of first appointments comes up, everyone seems to retreat into a memory for a moment and usually the story of some special person or special event from those years at the first appointment is shared.
I was born while my parents were serving their first church in rural South Georgia. The magic that surrounds the stories my parents have told me about my earliest years of life has always been doubled in my mind because all of the special firsts happened at Cook’s Union UMC, the special community who nurtured them at the first of their ministry. [smile] When I went back to Cook’s Union with my parents about 5 years ago for a homecoming celebration where my dad was the guest pastor, I was welcomed back as their now grown “church baby.” [smile] I am entering this next phase of my life with Caleb with the knowledge that not everything about being “The Preacher’s Family” will be easy. Sometimes we will feel like we are living in a fish bowl and the moving will always be hard, but accepting this calling to be in full-time ministry will also be so rewarding. We will have the opportunity to get to know so many wonderful people and that’s what I am looking forward to.
In seminary, we were warned that our first appointment could really set the tone for the rest of our ministry. “That first appointment can make you or break you.” I think there is some truth in that, but certainly that doesn’t mean that the first church you serve can make you or break you. I am so thankful that the church is preparing for us, but I also know that we also must be preparing our hearts to receive their hospitality. A first appointment becomes a special memory by this commitment to mutual blessings.
So yes we are excited about beginning our ministry with “the church,” but never has excited packed so much meaning! [smile]
So Wednesday morning Caleb and I set off on an adventure to explore our new city. Of course we don’t really have any business there yet, but neither of us could wait to see where our new church and parsonage was located! [smile]
While I love it and appreciate it, sometimes the Methodist appointment system seems so silly. I’ve spent my entire life being moved from one place to another because of it so I’m allowed to say that. [smile] Each conference has a bit of a different way of doing things, but essentially the new pastor is only invited for one “official” visit to his or her new appointment. Ours will be next week, but that is so far away and we’ve been waiting with the knowledge of where we were going for over a month. Can you blame us that we decided to spend half a day peeking around as soon as we had the chance? [smile]
I imagine we may have turned the heads of a few residents with our circling around the blocks where our church and parsonage are located. Hopefully any gossiping that seeps around will remember to include how happy we looked. I am sure that we were both grinning the entire time.
First stop on the tour of our new city was the church. We were both so excited to find that it is situated in the middle of an extensive neighborhood. There are single family homes, trailers, apartment buildings, and a subdivision all within about a 3 mile radius. It was amazing to think of all the people we will meet. As we drove, I felt compelled to whisper words of blessing and prayer for these people who we’ll hopefully come to know so well very soon. The church itself is a grand brick building with a fantastic playground! I can’t wait to see how life will come pouring out through our ministry with the members.
Our next task was to try to locate the parsonage. We didn’t have the address, but gathered the clues from what the Staff Parish Relations Committee chair had described to Caleb when he called to welcome us after the appointment was set and the pictures we found on the church website and set out on the search. Eventually at the very end of our exploring we found it. I really couldn’t be more pleased with the neighborhood or the look of the house from the outside. It is situated on the top of a ridge and has a lovely view of the mountains surrounding. We have neighbors on both sides but the lots are each a nice size so we’ll have plenty of space to spread out. We even saw a few people on porches and driveways who looked so kind.
Those were the really big finds of the day. Though we did spend a bit of time exploring the downtown and shopping areas of the city, there’s not much I could share with you that would be of interest except to say I have a good feeling that we’ll fit in perfectly. We consider ourselves very fortunate to be moving from DC into another city… albeit a much smaller one. [smile] The dining and entertainment scenes may not host “We the Pizza” or the Kennedy Center, but we do have many more choices that we were expecting. Neither of us can wait to become official residents.
P.S. I’ve already found the library. Given how excited I am to explore its contents, I think getting a library card is at the top of my first week to do lists!
His and Her’s: A weekly series on “Daily Musings on Life Together”
My parents safely arrived in DC yesterday around lunch and we immediately set about sharing with them the city we love. We ate lunch at Shophouse, explored Kramer’s Books, and strolled around Dupont Circle until a very threatening rain cloud forced us to flee. [smile] After a brief tour of campus and shared worship with the seminary community, we went for dinner at our favorite Indian place– Tandori Nights in Bethesda. By the time we dropped them off at their hotel, we all were exhausted. I think you could safely say we made the most of their first half day together. Can’t wait for what we’ll explore today!
At dinner, I decided to mine them for information I could share for this week’s His and Her’s post. My dad has been a United Methodist minister for over 30 years and since Caleb will be joining the ranks in about a month, I though seeking some advice for our first appointment would be perfect. My mom of course is very familiar with the role I’ll be filling as “the preacher’s wife.” So I posed the question: “what is one thing you wish you could tell yourself before entering a life of ministry?”
My dad’s advice for Caleb: Go with the flow and love the people. He shared that when you take a new appointment you’ll inevitably encounter some different ways of doing things… maybe it’s a Sunday School teacher who has a particular way of teaching her class or a parishioner who likes to go night fishing. Whatever the case be willing to go with the flow, enjoy what’s happening around you, and love the people.
My mom’s advice for me: Be yourself. She shared that when they moved to their first appointment she felt she was still discovering a lot about who she was and sometimes encountering the “characters” in a church challenged that experience of self discovery. Ultimately being authentically who you are is what will allow the relationships that will make your time at a place most meaningful to develop.
Great advice I think for us soon to be preacher’s family and for anyone moving into something new. Now off to explore the city with my parents some more.
We have begun the final countdown– 9 days until my parents arrive for their visit, 14 days until graduation, and 15 days until we move out of the apartment. Sadly that meant we couldn’t put off packing another weekend.
Boxes of books.
As a UMPK (code for United Methodist preacher’s kid), my childhood was marked by the regular process of packing and moving and since graduating from high school I’ve moved almost every 9 months. That experience combined with what my cousin Emily and I like to call the “Bagwell Efficiency Packing Gene,” you might say that I’m a bit of a packing expert. [smile] Over the years of learning what boxes are best for books, breakables, framed art/photos, and linens I’ve had very few casualties from the packing process.
Given my proven track record, I thought I would use this opportunity to share some wisdom. So here are my top 3 packing tips just in case you find yourself in moving mode sometime soon:
- Whenever possible keep original boxes. So to some of you this may sound completely impractical and you may be asking: why use up space storing all those boxes and Styrofoam packing material? Well, if you are someone who has moved regularly you know how helpful it is to have a store of appropriate sized boxes at your disposal when its time to move. As an added bonus, the original packing materials for breakable nic-nacs is better than any bubble wrap you can buy. I mean, the original producers of that figurine or appliance already went to the trouble of figuring out how to get their product to you without it breaking so why not get more use out of their ingenuity.
- Pack boxes tight. Don’t leave extra space at the top of the box. Try to fill that box to the brim. Think back to what makes original packaging so great for breakables or appliances– those Styrofoam molds hold every delicate piece of equipment or figurine in static place. Try to model that whenyou’re packing things your boxes. The less space left for movement in the box the less likely it will be that things will shift and possibly break. Additionally, using all the space efficiently means less boxes and fewer trips back and forth from the moving truck. All together a win-win!
- Pick the right sized box for the right job. Even though you… and by “you” I mean us [smile]… have tons of books and it might make it easier to ensure that they all end up in the same place by packing them together, a big box of books will be impossible to move because it will weigh a ton! More boxes in sizes that are easily carried makes the work of unloading so much more practical. Save those extra big boxes for pillows and linens!
Packing up all of the little things that make our house “our house.” I spy the Founder of Methodism! [smile]
Bonus Tip: if you are in the need of boxes check the local liquor store. Liquor boxes are both really sturdy and usually the perfect size for packing books. Of course, if you are a pastor in a tea-totaler tradition you may have some explaining to do if members of your new tradition show up to help you unpack. [smile]