Recently I was joking with someone about what blogging typically looks like, i.e. a collection of 10 or so posts that all begin with: “Man, it’s been a WHILE since I’ve written. I’m about to get back on it and keep at it!” Over and over again. A vicious cycle.
We’ve had a great summer in KC and even got to see a lot of Georgia friends since the last time I posted an update. If you follow any of my social media, you’ll know I am pretty enthusiastic about the changes in weather up here. This afternoon, we ate lunch. On our porch. Outside. In peace. With no gnats. And didn’t sweat. All of the words in that description matter. And we even survived our very first earthquake with minimal damage! Incredibly minimal actually. So minimal that I created my own. CNN had all the coverage and if you scroll down you’ll see that I became moderately famous for a day.
Alas, the fall looks like it’ll be beautiful here and we’re excited. So on with the updates…
We’re constantly trying to add bits and pieces to our little apartment to make it feel more like home than a transitory space. It’s fun watching it come together. And I’m sure I’ll look back with fondness over the days when we had to give Ramsey a bath in this place. Ramsey is a 94lb. American Bulldog/Lab bundle of joy and goodness, so take a moment to imagine him plus a bathtub in a small bathroom. It’s as fun as you could imagine. I suspect we’ll be in this apartment for another 6 months to a year before looking for someplace else. We really want a yard and my masculinity is all but wasting away without a grill 🙂
I’m still part-time at a local bank and also joined the Student Leadership team this semester at Midwestern. We have our hand in a bunch of different tasks and events around campus and I absolutely love the group of people I serve with. Paige is busy with her work at the seminary. This fall the Midwestern Women’s Institute launched its “Thrive Groups” and courses for ladies so that has kept her pretty busy. I’m so encouraged by the work she does even though its rewards aren’t often tangible. She’s also helping Karen Allen, the wife of MBTS President Dr. Jason Allen, with various things. It has been a unique way to serve a family whose vision and ministry we support 100% and we’re thankful for the opportunities there.
Additionally some work I’ve been doing since the spring has become more publicly known. I work for several hours a week as an Editorial Assistant for a church resource blog called “For the Church”. I help maintain the site’s social media and also edit some of the content that appears on the site each week. In a season where much of my own writing is “quiet”, God has been so faithful in allowing me to have my hand in the mix with this blog. My time spent editing the posts often becomes devotional and I’m sometimes in awe of the way God uses ordinary people that few others know anything about. The content there is quite good and you should check it out!
Last month, we became members of Emmaus Church, a three year old church plant that meets in Parkville, MO. The church’s mission statement truly is the best way to sum it up – “Emmaus Church exists to see God glorified and churches multiplied by declaring and displaying the gospel.” After our plans to move to St Louis changed in the spring, we began searching for training opportunities here in KC as it became evident we would be staying. Emmaus Church has established the “TRAIN Residency”, a 2-year program created to assess, train, and send out men to pastor, plant or replant churches. In a week or two I will be going through the interview process with the leadership at Emmaus and will hopefully start the residency journey this coming January. I will definitely be giving more details on what all of that looks like as the details become more clear.
Apart from the residency, we’re loving our community group and the opportunity to serve on Sundays at church. I think Jared Wilson wrote one time about his hope after leaving the pastorate for a season – about wanting to be a faithful, low-maintenance church member. And that’s truly where we are. Living quiet lives, praying for God’s grace to be faithful in the place we’re in and with the people we’re with presently. There’s so much happening here and now, today, and I’m praying we don’t overlook it and miss out on what God’s doing because we were so concerned and/or excited about the future.
Kansas City is a lot of fun. There are tons of places to go, things to do, places to eat, pounds to gain, etc. The correlation between those last two is a sobering reality that I’m contending with on the daily, ha. I digress. We’ve gotten to do some pretty fun things. I sort of pride myself on being able to go to sporting events here on the cheap – mostly for free – and we’ve gotten to go to a few soccer games, some concerts, the UGA game in Columbia, MO, and I was at Kauffman Stadium watching the Royals play more than a few times this summer. Every now and then we just go explore. We haven’t really scratched the surface of this lovely city in light of our busy schedules so I’m sure there will be more of that to come.
But for every Instagram picture that makes others believe that life is just peachy for us, I will say it’s been challenging on more than a few levels as we figure out just what it is God is wanting us to do and who He’s calling us to be. For the past several years I’ve carried a packet of papers that God has used to sort of “steer” my life in the directions we have walked. Listed on the pages are the “competencies” of pastors/planters the Acts 29 Network assesses along with Scripture references that flesh the areas out a bit more. A few years ago I took the packet and began circling and highlighting, sort of assessing myself to find the areas I’m strong in and the areas I’m weaker in and that I need the most help in. The two that need the most attention right now as I prepare to be a pastor are doctrine and marriage.
Doctrine almost feels like the easy fix. God has led us to an amazing institution and to an amazing church and He’s using both to iron out precious truths in my heart and mind. On the daily, I get to be under gospel-centered teaching, plodding around in the Greek text, and honing in on study methods and theological convictions that I’m not sure I would’ve taken the time to sort out otherwise. Sounds dreamy, right? 🙂 Marriage hasn’t been a different story altogether, it’s just been challenging in other ways.
The “fixes” seem more elusive, the parts move a bit more, and the enemy is surely prowling. We have busy schedules, and little spats, and are continuing to learn one another well enough to relate to each other in a God-honoring way. From what I understand, we’re in for a life-long learning process in some respects and I cherish the thought. I sincerely do. It’s tough but oh-so-rewarding. We’ve found a loving community that surrounds us in both life and prayer and it’s a joy to not have to keep life to ourselves. It’s one of God’s graces to us and we’re beyond thankful. But somewhat selfishly I’ll still ask that you pray for us. It would mean a lot.
I don’t write this to be vague in any way or to move towards the other extreme and “bare all” online – I think I just write so that others won’t be tempted to despair because of our “highlight reel”. It’s easy to click into a Facebook or Instagram account and think, “Man, this person is KILLING it. They’re having tons of fun and everything’s perfect in their lives.” And slowly but surely, you begin to hold your life up against theirs and the whole process breeds discontentment. Instead, I want to posit myself (and Paige, too) as people just as needy as anyone else. Sinful, disobedient beggars who’ve pulled up a chair at the table, not far from where you’re sitting, daily asking God for bread and constantly, always, forever reminding each other to trust and to know He’s not giving us a snake in return. He’s a good Father and I would tell you doubly so because of His kindness, His mercy, and His grace in Christ towards me.