1) After a long weekend where we moved the rest of our stuff home from Wilmore, a trip to go buy furniture at an IKEA store in suburban Detroit that was wholly unsuccessful, a lot of work trying to whip our new property into shape, a jump into the pool with a my cell phone in my pocket, a nerve-wracking but blessed first service as a senior pastor, and a second day as a senior pastor that included an Ad Board tonight where people started asking tough questions, I think maybe I don't have the energy to think about ten things.... but we'll see that happens.
2) Our family and about thousand boxes are now safely in our home. Of course those boxes won't unpack themselves, but unlike the other large number of moves we've made, this one is totally different in that we're trying to remodel space as we move in..... which creates lots of issues. The space is the basement, and since we can't fill it with stuff, the stuff has to sit in other areas of the house, which creating a log jam of boxes that can't be unpacked as of yet. The end result is that now the garage is filling up, and we're at the mercy of the guy doing the work in our home to kind of break the logjam. So we treat him well, and pray for him often. We invite you to do so also.
3) A big thank you to everyone at church Sunday, and everyone who would have liked to have been there but just weren't able to make it. We appreciate your support and prayers, and more importantly, look forward to working with everyone who love Shawnee UMC to keep moving joyously into the future, as a true family of faith, reaching out to everyone so that they might know the peace and love and Jesus. Was especially touched by all the friends and family who came to the service to celebrate with us this new chapter that we're opening up now. Just a great day.
4) A lot of people who have been instrumental in my life showed up Sunday. My uncle, Jack, (who came with his lovely wife, Beth) who has loved me like few other uncles could love a nephew (even though he'll not return my low wave when we pass one another on our motorcycles cause I ride a lowly Kawasaki). Noreen Parish who was the best Sunday School teacher I ever had. My Dad's twin brother David, and his wife Chris, who live out their faith in a way that would make my Grandmother Bucher proud. A host of great people from Lima Trinity (my home church) who celebrated probably are still scratching their heads wondering how I ended up as a pastor. Paul and Kelly Clemens, the first couple I ever married (their daughter thanked me for marrying them because that made it possible for her to be alive). Terry and Myra Moneer who (among many others, particulary a guy named Harry Folden) taught me that humor and Christian faith mix very, very well.
And a guy named Phil Heath. He was there.
Phil volunteered in the youth ministry at Trinity while I was a youth, and never has one person had such a huge impact on another, just by being present, real, and loving. I know Phil has never thought that what he did in those days was all that big a deal, but with every ski trip and church camp he took time off to spend with us, Phil taught us what it meant to be Christian. He was humble, present, caring, a lot of fun, and willing to knock us back into line for our own good. I love what he did as a volunteer youth leader cause he was a volunteer... he chose spend his time with us for no other good reason than he felt like he should do it. He never pretended to have it all together, or that he was some bible scholar. He just shared who he was, with us. His sacrifice and friendship will always be appreciated.
Thanks to everyone who went out of their way to show up, and to Mom for the great lunch after the service.
5) Of course the new job comes with new responsibilities and challenges. Shawnee always faces challenges when it comes to finances. Our youth ministry has been in constant turmoil for three years, which has led to much frustration and pain. Our ministries by and for adults need much attention. And, it's always traumatic when a church loses a long-time senior pastor. Always.
But, I don't know. The more time I spend in this office and in this position, I grow less fearful and weary at the amount of work at hand, and instead am energized by the opportunities. We have done, and will continue to great work in service of Jesus here at Shawnee, and call me crazy, but I believe the Lord is using things that make us frustrated and uncomfortable to move in new directions and whisper to us new solutions. I can't help it... I just believe that the Kingdom needs this church to be strong, creative, and impassioned. And that's what frustration is - anger turned sideways.
I spent a lot of time the last year thinking about words of Lessie Newbigin, who believed that spiritual warfare was in its essence, humanity struggling with those spiritual forces that shaped the way the world around us works. The metaphor I use to understand it, personally, comes out of every experience I ever had trying to fix or assemble anything mechanical, or even non-mechanical. All the pieces are designed to fit together, but but my own lack of skill, and the sheer difficulty at times that can come in trying to put those pieces together in the right order is personally very maddening. It's like the time I replaced a starter on a 1990 Toyota Pick-Up. I initially took off the wrong bolts on the mechanism, and ended up taking apart the starter, but then having to find the right bolts to take what was left of it out of the truck. Then I accidentally dropped one of the said bolts into the transmission, and had to go buy a high-powered magnet to fish it out. Between all the struggling with taking and fishing bolts out, as well as figuring out how to put them back in, it took me five hours, a repair manual, and some help from my neighbor Rolo to fix the truck.
But that's the struggle in life, isn't it. It all fits together, somehow, but it can be - often at our own making - so impossibly complex or difficult to grapple with (particularly when we encounter something we don't have much experience with) that often "the fix" becomes more painful or difficult than what is broken. Newbigin talks a lot about this in his book "The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society", but it's his contention that it's less evil that we are wrestling with, but a wild, untamed creation that is always creating and renewing... beckoning us always to something closer to the heart of God's desire. So the hard work and sacrifice necessary obscure often what we think we are racing, or plodding, towards because hard work and sacrifice never feel all that good.
But man... you should have been there the moment I turned that key, and took that truck over the 7-11 for a celebratory Slurpee.
I know spiritually, there are "Slurpees" consisting of relationships renewed, lives changed, the oppressed set free, the poor made rich, and the Lord pleased greatly out there for us. I just know it.
6) Finally, don't bother expecting me to call right now. In order to save my youngest from drowning, last Saturday I jumped into the pool with my cell phone in my pocket. Today it just began answering phone calls, but my screen looks like modern art, so it's impossible to summon phone numbers and the like. Of course, trading a working a phone for Elijah isn't even an issue or choice. Eli never made down the final step, and I as his father did what I am committed to do... watch over his little clueless cute self until the day comes that he can make better choices for himself. Consider that for the next couple of days as my Samsung slowly dries.
7) For those who have asked... yes, I watched LeBron's 48 point performance, and my thoughts on it are this: I haven't seen a player dominate a game like that since Jordan had that game against Portland in the Finals where he was so ridiculously hot that all he could do was throw his hands up and shrug. Only, in that game, Jordan was surrounded by one of the most talented teams in the NBA, and LeBron is willing his teammates, who aren't the most talented team in the NBA, to this improbably run at a championship years younger before Jordan was able to do the same.
Let the LeBron era begin, and let's hope guys like Duane Wade, Carmello Anthony, Kevin Durant, Greg Oden, and host of other up and coming players usher in basketball that hasn't been this exciting since the days of Bird and Magic.
8) You watch... this thing with Billy Donovan in Florida is going to end badly. This isn't like when Coach K almost left Duke to coach to Lakers... that was an old b-ball coach looking for possibly one last challenge before he hung up his clipboard. This is different. Donovan is young and unsatisfied playing second banana to a football program that owns that school, because football as a sport owns that state (and the south for that matter). I don't care what kind of contract he signs with the Gators now... him leaving for something better will always be the Achilles heel of that program. He'll be the subject of speculation for every major coaching job that comes available, and no matter what he says, people will wonder if he'll be bolting town soon. If Florida was smart, they'd just tell Billy to beat it, and make the call to that coach at VMI because what Donovan wants he can't have at that football school. I give it two years before this whole thing implodes or he skips out of town under the cover of darkness. Gator fans, don't say you weren't warned.
9) I have the greatest wife in the world. She's been working non-stop getting our home packed, and now unpacked, with a mopey, crying terrible-two year old hanging all over her. She's grieving the loss of her Beeson sisterchicks and having to face the loss of her mom all over again now that we are truly back home. And yet, I can't tell you how much she continues to do for us, with the attitude of a true servant (most moments... I mean, all us males drive her nuts so cut her a little slack). She is way, way better than I deserve, and I love her.
10) And if you've been wondering, the news from my Beeson brothers and sisters has been good. Rumor has it that Alicia and Matt have both found houses. Kent is in Tanzania training pastors. Travis and Ginny are still waiting on their baby to make its move (hang in there Ginny), and Trav and Becca has found out they're having a girl (Trav has no chance... consider him already wrapped around her finger). Aaron is picking up where he left off at Grandview (a church ecstatic to have him back I'm guessing). And, all in all, they all seem to be doing well, although, if you could say a prayer for Randy and Sue's daughter, Ana, I'm sure they'd appreciate it. It's just hard leaving people who became like family to you.
I hope we all see each other again, on this side.