Monthly Archives: January 2015

In the Next Seven Days, I will…

…lead a full day retreat for thirty or so people

…reformat the music program at my job

…buy and install a carpet

…install a new pane of glass

…clean up our entire house

….write and give a two hour presentation on new forms of church

….facilitate a conversation about a co-op newspaper for a city-wide visioning meeting

which means that I will not….be writing any new exciting blog posts.

See you on the other side of the crazy.

An Unexpected Chapter

I am moving.

I didn’t see this coming a year ago.

We had just bought a house, a house big enough to grow into, one that fit the size of the dreams we had for our life in this city.

I thought we had turned the corner with the Vine and that the next season of our lives was going to involve settling down and raising a family.

I thought my time in Haverhill would be measured in decades, not in months.

However, life does not fit with my best-intentioned prognostications. As the dust settled from the Vine’s unexpected ending and we assessed our options, we realized that, if there was a time to make a change, this was a good one. After talking with family and a few close friends, after a lot of prayer and thought, we realized that God is calling us to live in Portland, ME for the next season of our lives.

I’m excited. Portland fits us. We can be close to our family, we can reconnect with childhood friends, we can become part of a good faith community, and put down roots in a genuinely exciting place to live.

I’m also grieving.

I will miss this city.

Haverhill has become home to me. I’ve grown to love how much it feels like a small town, even though it has 60,000 people. I love its deep history, stretching back to far before the Revolutionary War.  I’ve grown to love its people, a quirky mix of ages, cultures, and ideologies that have constantly pushed me out of my own relational and political enclaves. I’ve grown to love living in a community that is genuinely turning the corner, knowing that I had a (very) small part of making that happen.

I’ve grown to love the people of this city: the growing group community-minded residents who volunteer selflessly; those incredibly courageous people who make life work in difficult neighborhoods and unfair life circumstances; those business owners I’ve met who really believe that part of their job is blessing the people they’ll miss. I’ll miss the incredible youth I’ve taught, (yes, Charlotte and Montserrat, that’s you!) who amaze me with their creativity, compassion, and joy. Every time we share with someone our plans to move and they threaten to burn down our house so we can’t go, (jokingly, right?) or say, “You don’t need to go to be closer to family, you have family here!”, or start tearing up, I ask myself again, “Do we really have to leave?”

And every time, I discover that the answer is: yes.

A yes that comes with tears, but a yes, nonetheless.

I hope that my grief means that I did something right: that in the midst of the mess that was my journey in this place, that in the midst of all my mistakes, naive assumptions, and dreams that went sideways, I somehow blundered (at least a little bit) into sharing the love that God has for this city as well.

To all of you who will be a part of my journey in Portland, I can’t wait to meet you.

And: to all of you who have been a part of my journey in Haverhill, thank you, thank you, thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traveling Through Fear

What’s it like three month after your first great dream officially ends and you’re wondering what comes next?

There’s a lot. Much of it very good, some of it very difficult. (And I want to share the difficult parts with you as well. Why? Click here.)

I’ll tell you about one challenge I’m struggling with right now.

Fear.

It’s probably the reason why my twitter feed has dried up, my newsletter keeps getting pushed to the back burner, and why I haven’t posted very much here recently.

It’s the fear that comes from the stress of the several major transitions and the million little ones that I’m in the midst of right now.

It’s the fear that comes from having sent out several inquiries out into the wind, ones that could make a big difference for my life, and not having any control over what happens next.

It’s the fear that comes from knowing the career that I had assiduously built for the last fifteen years (that’s half my life!) is gone and that a good part of my next one will likely involve stocking grocery shelves. (I find myself saying, “Grocery stores! I’m 31! I have a Masters Degree! I’ve planted a church! I don’t stock grocery shelves! Yes, I clearly have some major issues to work through with this.)

It’s the fear of that I will not discover what I want to do next, followed by the much more intense fear that I will discover what I want to do next, but no one will care when I try.

It’s not all the time. There are days when I’m hopeful and excited for the future. However, there are also other days when so much as opening my laptop seems too much to handle.

Here’s the hard truth:

There’s no magical spiritual jujitsu, where, through the perfect combination of positive thoughts (I can do it!), the right opportunities (and then, just as I realized I could do it, that amazing job opportunity came through!), and the right affirmations, (and then, that person who always thought I was a miserable failure called me up to say how they were wrong, I am amazing, and how I had a great future in store for me!), I can wrestle my fear to the ground and beat the living crap out of it.

Maybe there are people who have such incredibly relentless resilience that, after getting knocked to the ground, they can spring back up, cheerfully dust themselves off, and leap into the next thing.

However, for mere mortals, like me, there are no easy answers.

All I’ve learned so far is this: the only way to get to the other side of my fear is to go through it, and trust there’s something good on the other side.

And that process sucks.

That’s the best I think any of us can do: travel through our fear day by day, grabbing onto every inch of progress, and trusting (or at least acting as if we trust) that something better lies at the other end.

I know that it will get easier. Decisions will get made. Doors will open (or close.) Life will get easier.

Until then, keeping going is the best that I (or any of us) can do.