The Care Package

I have it on good authority that I am getting a care package from Portland today. These things are my sustaining grace, those people who care about me no matter where they live. I am alternatively living in deep grief and on top of the world, and care packages are one of the things that rescue me from thinking that things are all bad, all the time. The other thing that has me rising above all of the grief is that I am doing a wedding in August. Since there’s no way I’ll be done with grad school by then, I’ll get myself ordained over the Internet and keep on truckin.’ I want to be ordained for the wedding because it will give me the ability to a) say those special words b) sign a marriage certificate so that I will be on the official record as having done my first wedding ever. It’s the care package I’m giving myself.

I have already done many church services, but this is a special one. I have a few “tricks up my sleeve,” handed down from both my dad and Dr. Susan Leo. Susan and I have had our issues over the years, but I cannot mistake the part for the whole. Susan was the first person that believed in my ability enough to not only hand me her pulpit, but the direction of the entire service as a whole. I even did communion once, to the consternation of the congregation, because they did not know that in the UCC, you do not have to be ordained to do any of the rites. It was the first time I realized I knew the entire communion service by memory. Although I never did it again, because even though you don’t need ordination for it, I didn’t want to make anyone angry, and even in my own mind, I needed to first “wear it like I stole it.”

That moment was when I realized that I started exploring the idea of the confirmed ministry program as opposed to grad school, and I still may deciding on where my life takes me from here. I know within myself that I am not ready to take on a congregation of my own, simply because I am not finished working on myself. However, it wouldn’t hurt to be an associate pastor, soaking up all the knowledge my senior pastor has to offer. In some ways, I think I would make a better associate, because I have the ability to show up and preach, as well as being a part of planning and execution, but not responsible for everything until I am ready to fly solo. I go back to my father’s time at Moody Memorial Methodist Church in Galveston, Texas, where my father served under an incredible senior pastor named Asbury Lennox, and realize that at least for a while, I need my own Asbury. To know him was to love him intensely… especially as a child, because he took me in as my own when my own grandparents lived five hours away by car. Our special date was to go to King’s Candy on the strand, where we would sit and eat licorice laces and divinity.

Good things come from NE Texas, and I am one of them. But I am glad that I also got the chance to live in both Galveston and Houston, as well. For those who are interested, Josh Rushing of Al Jazeera America/ Control Room fame is also “one of us.” Josh’s grandmother was even mayor of Lone Star for a while… the little town in which both my mother and father were raised. As for my father, I don’t think that anyone expected that in a town of 600, he would rise to be a musician of that caliber. In that vein, I cannot leave my mother out of that crowd, either, because she was a church musician starting as a child and rose to greatness at Kilgore College, taught by the same piano teacher that taught Van Cliburn.

Good things come from NE Texas.

The way our family ended up in NE Texas after living in Galveston is that the senior pastor at First United Methodist Church in Naples died suddenly and my father was sent there in an emergency appointment. We stayed there for five years before we left for The Heights near downtown Houston. It was a great place to grow up as a child, but we left just in time. The only reason I say that is junior high and high school were when my friends started to experiment with drinking in cow fields, very much the picture of Friday Night Lights. They turned out to be responsible adults, but it was just not my scene. I went on to join a fabulous band at Clifton Middle School, and to attend The High School for Performing and Visual Arts. Though I went there for instrumental music as a trumpet player, I was exposed to all kinds of art. The only program they started after I left that made me a little melancholy was creative writing…. because you know I would have been terrible at it.

Through those experiences, I learned that there was more to life than I ever thought existed, because even though I left HSPVA after two years, I wouldn’t have traded being in marching band and taking mission trips to Mexico for anything in the world. I learned more Spanish through immersion than I ever did in school… my apologies to my Spanish teachers, but there was no substitute for being forced to speak Spanish… my favorite phrase being habla despacio, por favor. I could understand most anything if everyone would just slow down.

I would like to do more immersion over time, because it would thrill me to be able to preach in Spanish.

As the weather gets colder, my heart gets warmer.

Good things come from NE Texas. I am banking on the fact that I am one of them.



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