Eventually I’ll get around to posting about ministry in Vermont, but since I’m not installed until June 29th, I’m writing about my trip “up north”.
June of 2014 will probably go down in history as one of my busiest months since mid May- June of 2008, when my wife and I went through the following life changes together: 1) Dee graduating in Nebraska, 2) My graduation/call day in Wisconsin a week later, 3) spending time in Wisconsin before going back to Louisiana for our wedding, 4) getting married in Nebraska, 5) driving to Wisconsin for wedding reception in my hometown, 6) flying to Hawaii on honeymoon, 7) driving to Nebraska to pick up some of Dee’s stuff, and 8) driving from Nebraska to live in Louisiana. At the time we thought we must have been crazy to do all of that stuff in about a month’s time. We still do.
After announcing my call acceptance to Christ the Redeemer in Barre, VT on May 4th, I continued to preach through the month of May as my wife was still in school. My last Sunday was on June 1st.
It was a very bittersweet day for me, as I got the privilege of speaking of Christ’s ascension at my last service. I saw a lot of parallels between the ascension and my last sermon, (with the exception that I’m not Jesus). Jesus left his friends behind, and I was leaving people behind that were close friends for six years. I left them with the thought that Jesus wasn’t leaving forever, neither was I. One of the great comforts we have as Christians is that we never truly have to say goodbye. Even though a surprising number of people are telling me they suddenly want to make travel plans to the New England states, even if we don’t meet again on earth, we will see each other in heaven. That is what gave me comfort on a day like today.
“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)
After Sunday service was over, my wife and I were busy packing until the day they came to load up, which ended up being June 11th. In the meantime, the next Sunday was the first of a few Sundays were I as a pastor had a unique opportunity–sitting in a pew for worship. It may sound silly, but when you’re always preaching in the front of church, it’s kind of refreshing to sit in the pew and worship with your family. A few things I took away from my first Sunday in the pew (at Cross of Glory in Baton Rouge): 1) It’s really great to see other churches, and I was in a beautiful one on this particular Sunday, 2) Suddenly I was the favorite parent to do “potty breaks with,” and 3) seeing up close what my wife deals with on a weekly basis (alone!) makes me want to rethink the length of my sermons.
Like I said, people came to finish up packing what we didn’t on June 11th, and a truck came to load us up on June 12th. Loading the truck took about all day, and then we stayed behind a while to “clean up” our old house. We also had some of our friends from church stop by to say goodbye, and some of them invited us to spend the night on the 12th, so we could rest up and get an early start on the 13th.
I will spare you all the details of our trip, but we spent a lot of quality time in the car. We tried to get at least one picture in every state, you can see some of them here. We didn’t do a ton of sight-seeing (except for what was out our window) with the exception of stopping to see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty while in New York. It didn’t seem real. But, as usual, I brought my camera, and I have pictures to prove it!
After 4 days, about 1650 miles, 14 states, countless viewings of “Frozen”, and a lot of potty stops, we made it safely to our new home on the evening of Monday, June 16th. We were greeted very warmly at our house by some members from the church, and the next morning were up early to spend all day unloading the countless boxes which had arrived from Louisiana. By the way, it just so happened that the day our moving truck arrived was the warmest day so far this summer. Coincidence?
In the few days we have been here, we have been getting acclimated to life in Vermont. We have been unpacking boxes, and Dee has been job searching with some success–more details to come soon! The members and people in the community we have talked to are very kind and welcoming. Life sure is different in Vermont–in fact, just this evening I was wearing shorts and got goosebumps because I thought it was a “little chilly.” (I won’t tell you what temperature it was!) I don’t think I’ve said that in the middle of June in a long time. With all that is different about Vermont, one thing makes it just like everywhere else I’ve ever lived–it’s full of people who need to know about Jesus. That’s why I’m glad I’m here. But for now, the plan is to continue unpacking boxes.