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It’s really, really quiet around here without Kaylin. I knew I was going to miss her, but I didn’t realize how much a part of my life she’d become. I got used to having her around.

I’d forgotten how old David and I are, and how boring. =)

We’re also starting to think about moving, and that’s put [slight] a damper on my spirits (and so my exuberance). I’m not moping about, but I have started thinking of things in a Last Time Bell light.

The Last Time Bell – I read a long time ago in some silly book about a character whose childhood was ripped away from her when her parents were both killed in an accident. She was the oldest and had to grow up quickly as she raised her siblings. She felt the loss of her childhood and regretted not making the most of it (what child would know to do that?)… so she invented the Last Time Bell. She’d mentally ring it when she might be experiencing something for the last time. The bell helped her consciously absorb everything she could about the experience.

Nothing else from that book stuck with me (like I said, it was some silly book), but I think of this bell when I approach the end of a personal era.

Anyway, it’s quiet around here. David’s playing Kingdom of Loathing and I’m left alone with my thoughts, without a teenager to shake me out of the doldrums.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about our upcoming move.

My recent musings have turned in the direction of ease. Specifically, what we as Christians are called to – is it a life of ease, or a different kind of life? A life of toil, sacrifice, challenge, hard work, cross-bearing?

David accepted a senior pastor position at a small, rural church.

We’ll be moving from our city home in a poor urban neighborhood to a relatively wealthy small town. Objectively speaking, this town is probably just solidly middle-class and comfortable – but compared to what we are accustomed to (and to what I really have loved), it’s picturesque and affluent.

We will be moving from a small and struggling inner-city church, where every day brings new crises and fresh loss, where every small victory is celebrated fiercely because we so often see failure, to a regular small church – like the small churches I’ve been in and out of all my life, wonderful groups of people who have regular, comfortable lives.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this. I know that inner-city ministry isn’t for everyone, and that’s not where I’m going.

Where I am going is this: I don’t believe that we’re called to live comfortable lives. I don’t believe that being a Christian should be easy. I do believe that it should be fulfilling and exciting, but I also believe that we should be living our ministry in a way that interferes with our “daily” lives.

I worry that our new church will be comfortable for me. Too easy.

Where I am now, I’m constantly busy, often exhausted. There is too much work for too few workers. It’s hard. And heartbreaking. And I love it – there’s something very fulfilling about being useful. In one sense, any sane human can contribute as well as any other – just be being there and being willing to work;  in another sense, I am important. We each have gifts that make a real difference – something that makes us uniquely useful. This is how I have come to understand what Paul talks about when he talks about how the church should be.

We will go to a church that has survived and even grown a bit in the absence of a pastor. They are ready for a fresh vision, and a strong teacher – but the congregation has what they need. There are well-established ministries, and they’ve established a good rhythm.

I worry that, because I won’t see immediate in-my-face need and won’t feel the urgency of  too few hands, I’ll drift back into just being a nice Christian girl who goes to church on Sunday and Wednesday and can separate her walk from her life.

That’s what’s on my mind this week.

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  • after a tough-but-positive meeting, got to spend the evening having major fun with her husband and teenager: homemade applesauce and DDR! #
    The childcare is closing, and its director asked me to meet her to talk about finances and moving-forward plans. What a difficult thing to do! We talked about the closing of a business that couldn’t support itself in our neighborhood – about the ending of a ministry. Well, about the moving and morphing of a ministry. She will continue the childcare on her own with whichever families will stay, and will try to build a career on it. What didn’t work for an organization may work for an individual. It’s exciting to be in on the planning – and wrenching to be involved in the ending.
  • is chilling at the new(ish) Indy library. loves this place – today, because its internet works when hers doesn’t. also, it’s relaxing. #
    What a pain! I’ve been having a lot of trouble with my work computer and home internet. For some reason, it drops its connection several times a day – which means I have to reestablish all my security several times a day. It takes forever, and sure does interrupt the flow of my work…  Ugh.
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  • is electing benefits and signing HR paperwork – fun times. =) #

    Trying to meet a deadline of having everything done 31 days after hire – that’s April 1, coming up pretty quickly. It’s tough trying to decide exactly what I’ll need in the future – pay less in premiums and get slammed if something bad happens, or pay more in premiums and nothing happens at all?
  • just returned from lunch with an ex-colleague friend – she’s newly married, radiant, and as witty and fun as ever. had a wonderful time! #

    Robyn is such a hoot! I had such a good time chatting with her. She loves being married (which I loved to hear), and has three new stepdaughters. We talked about that, and how similar in some ways it is to what we’re doing with Kaylin. I have it much easier, I think, but she *does* have dad around to pull the parent card when the kids get ornery… =)
  • is wrestling with a pretty big decision. rhetorical: how do we discern the will of God (find the “best” instead of just choosing an “okay”)? #

    It’s tough trying to figure out what to do about this church. We very much like the congregation – they’re wonderful! But to say with any certainty that this is where God is calling us? That’s a much more difficult thing. Thank you for your prayers – we continue to pray as well.
  • has to prove that she’s married – again. why won’t the benefits providers just take my word for it? it’d be so much less hassle… =) #
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  • is prepping to go to a downer of a meeting. but, as depressing as facts are, it’s good to see stark details instead of muddled half-truth. #

    Our church has had a Childcare ministry for the last 7 or 8 years. At the end of last year, Bethany and I took over the finances and have been very careful to dot all our Is and cross all our Ts. We met our church’s treasurer for lunch to talk over the Childcare’s financial situation. Basically, it’s not bringing in enough in fees to cover payroll expenses. It’s a dire enough situation that we, in order to be good stewards of our resources, need to consider options and determine if the business is viable.
  • is settling back into her work day. it’s jarring jumping from church/childcare business back into “real” life… #

    It really is challenging to jump back and forth between my “lives” – church, work, and personal. I have what feels like three separate identities, and they all intrude upon one another. I’m the same person, but my responsibilities are so very different from life to life, as are people’s views of me. I have so much to do in each that I never can simply switch from one to another… It’s hard to manage.
  • really enjoyed today’s bright warmth – such a welcome change from dreary winter, and just what was needed on a tough day. #

    It really was rough. After the meeting with the church treasurer, I went to a Childcare Board meeting. We will come back together next week after digesting, thinking, praying… but we have mostly come to a consensus that the Childcare will close. It is the end of an era, and will drastically change lives of church members. It’s difficult to conduct a meeting such as the one we had with sensitivity, grace, and kindness – and to still be true to facts and figures. I am not a soft person, but I hurt for the staff who will lose jobs – more than jobs, ministries and livelihoods.
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  • is loving the new music – thanks, Leah! what fun! #
    Leah visited over the weekend (happy dance!) and, as always, I had a stinkin’ great time having her. Even when she comes and all we do is what I normally would do, my life is just… happier. This time, she shared some of her new music – she loves soundtracks/movies scores, for example – and has me hooked!
  • *really* wants to see “!HERO: The Rock Opera” – does anyone know where she can buy/rent/dl a copy of this show?#
    This is one of the albums Leah’s letting me listen to – she can’t find a video of this for less than $60 online, but she really wants to see it. If y’all know anyone who has it, let me know!
  • is enjoying Peppermint Bark (thanks Claudia!) and watching Godspell. =) #
    This is fantastic: I posted, a long time ago, that I was craving Peppermint Bark. My friend Claudia remembered that and this Sunday, she brought me a POUND of it! It’s fancy, and sooooo good. Much better, even, because it’s out of season, and was a gift from a thoughtful friend.
  • is no longer watching Godspell. It’s ridiculous. Finding something else. #
    Wow, was Godspell terrible (well, the first 20 minutes, anyway). Seriously – I like these kinds of things (modern adaptations of old/ancient stories), but the Jesus mime/clown character was just… creepy. I ended up watching two forgettable (but not disturbing, at least) comedies. It was nice to have an evening “off.”
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Our summer has been incredibly full.  We’re about to be back to life as usual (or a new kind of life as usual, one where David is working and I’m not…) – the school year starts August 31, and that’s only a few days away.

In our summer, we:

  • Went to Myrtle Beach, SC (which I mentioned in the last post)

so very relaxing…

don’t they look SO happy?!

graduation party glasses. =)

  • Went to the Aukerman family reunion

me and my D

a really great picture of Randy (rare to see him really smile on camera)

D playing like a little boy

  • Saw three Indians games

the obligatory “us at the pro” photo

beautiful park!

the Aukerfamily in front of the Pro

  • Went to Canada, first to visit friends Jim and Jessie in Kitchener, then to Bethany’s family’s cabin on Aylen Lake, then back to Jim and Jessie’s. No pictures from the lake – I left my camera at J&J’s! – but a couple of photos from the border and Toronto…

Dave’s first time over the border – he was giddy!

interesting city, Toronto. we walked for a while after an Indians/Jays game
we won, father-in-law! seems like it’s you, not me… =)

  • Drove straight from Kitchener (in ONTARIO) to Shawn and Lauren’s rehearsal (in TERRE HAUTE)..
  • To watch dear friend Shawn marry his Lauren  =)

here’s the hall and his folks

  • watched cousin Greg marry his Val

didn’t get any pictures of the bride and groom!
got a pic of Randy and Carrie and their Garrett, though…

the ymca – a new party tradition, it seems =)

the brothers Aukerman

  • Had my whole family visit (last time for a while)

melissa, hamming for the camera

daddy, clowning for the camera

Grandma Dee =) our visit with her and Brad was so sweet!

me and melissa =)

  • Watched my littlest sister start her first semester of college
  • Waved goodbye to my middlest sister as she left the country for another 2 years, just when we were starting to get used to her being back…

… and that brings us to this week.

I’m about to wave goodbye to my littlest sister – she’s headed for a semester in Ireland.  And I’m about to wave goodbye to the job I’ve had for almost a year – my contract at the hospital is up on August 31.

David’s about to start adjunct teaching again as he begins the pastoral candidating process.

Lots of changes have happened already, and lots more are about to come.  Stay tuned.  =)

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I’ve not blogged for a number of reasons, and won’t be doing much more than posting pictures for a while. But, hey – at least I’ll be posting again. =)

I wanted to post about our vacation, so I’ll write a few lines and then get with the picture posting.

It’s been a rough couple of months. Fast-paced, full of big, personal decisions and stressors. Things have been building for a long time – no breaks from the everyday worries can build, and when you start dealing with bigger things, stress and exhaustion can overwhelm you. It was perfect timing for a vacation.

We went to Myrtle Beach, as we have done every summer for the past few years. This is always a wonderful trip – not only do we get to be right on the beach for a week, we also get to reunite with good friends and with my family. Bill and Georgiana are two of the most generous and loving people we know – they open their home to 6 noisy and messy invaders every summer. Now that Melissa’s overseas and we’re out here in Indiana, my immediate family is rarely completely together. This is one of the few times a year that all (or most) of us can be found in one location, and it’s a much-needed reconnection.

For the first time in years, I completely relaxed.

David will laugh – being with my family can be anything BUT restful because we’re a lively, merry, and flat-out loud bunch. But there’s always been a strong current of satisfaction with one another, of joy, that flows through every interaction we have. Even the spatting. =) And then there was the calming influence and peaceful energy of good friends – Bill and Georgiana – to round out the atmosphere.

I didn’t work at all – on every other “vacation” I’ve taken in the past 3 years, I’ve had to bring work as a condition for getting the time off. Now that I’m in a new environment, I was able to actually disengage from the work for a week.

I left behind the weight of recent weeks. Heaviness, even while mostly balanced by peace (a true gift of God), has been my constant companion for two months now. While I was gone, I just… rested. And I was able to talk to my family about some of the things that have been weighing on me – having that support is already making a difference.

I came back to my life rested, more optimistic, and ready to face facts and challenges. But in this world, there’s always sadness waiting to temper joy. Friends are losing their jobs while I’m thanking God for my own. People who work very hard and manage money carefully can’t make ends meet, and can’t get help from the state or the government – while people who wallow in their own laziness and selfishness make choices that harm their own families – and get paid to do it.

It’s hard to maintain cheer and optimism when so many are battered so roughly by life… I am grateful to have a well to draw from when I’ve reached the end of my strength. How can people survive without a faith in something beyond circumstance and surroundings?

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Starting to get my life back under control… or at least that’s how I feel right this moment. Come back in 5 minutes and I’ll be quietly panicking.

Today’s accomplishments:

  • I got my email inbox down to 98 current personal/client emails (down from 240-some). It’s been months and months since I’ve been below 100 – and that’s with filters set up so that many emails skip the inbox entirely! This is what happens when you try to keep in touch with people and keep up with a web business in addition to volunteering.
  • I’ve finally made contact with Beth, the woman fostering a Ridgeback we are thinking of adopting. We started planning a meet-n-greet in… June? But there was tonsillitis (Beth, not the dog), then natural disaster – she lives in Cedar Rapids, IA with all the flooding, then family crises, then a month of family reunions for us, then VBS, then vacation… I think we’ll finally get to meet in August. Maybe. Hopefully.
  • I’ve finally got my Tekyn stuff together – I’m up-to-date with all of our clients, and have even picked up a new one over the weekend. That one will be fun – he knows his stuff, and knows what he wants while still being willing to listen to my suggestions. Refreshing. =) I got the go-ahead to start building a framework today.

All that despite working a full day and nursing a very ill (bronchitis, folks, mixed with some acid reflux) husband to sleep (not to health – his body has to do that). I’m feeling pretty good. =)

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