Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Beginnings...

Welcome baby Zoe Noelle Baker. Glad you're here safe and sound, wee one. We look forward to getting to know you and to watching you grow into a beautiful woman of God's grace!

Congrats to my cousin, Crystal, and her husband, Scott. As was shared at the wedding, may this day be the day you look back on and say it was the day you loved each other the least.
This one is added simply because it was too hard to resist! The bride and groom are blessed with this little monkey, their son, Brayden. What a ham!

In all my looking forward and in all my worrying, it's remembering this that gives me a sigh of relief and a moment's peace:

We can, each of us, only call the present time our own…
Our Lord tells us to pray for today, and so he prevents us
from tormenting ourselves about tomorrow.
It is as if [God] were to say to say: “[It is I] who gives you this day [and]
will also give you what you need for this day.
[It is I] who makes the sun to rise.
[It is I] who scatters the darkness of night and
reveals to you the rays of the sun.
~ Gregory of Nyssa, on the Lord’s Prayer

He said, She said

A while back I posted about some of the change in my life. The truth is, that change abounds. Change in my job, in church, in community, in my home and in my heart.

In my last post, I shared about the change in my job, leaving my position at the church. I knew that would bring about other changes but I don't know if, at the time, I realized the full extent of what that would mean. For many reasons, it means that it is time to find a new church community to call home...enter "church shopping" season, otherwise known as "church hopping" or, even better yet, "enjoying the summer." On the positive side of things, I realize I have been completely spoiled over the years with preachers/teachers who speak the word of God with passion and truth in a way that digs deep into my heart and leads me into deeper relationship with the creator of the universe. I have been privileged to worship in song with worship leaders who understand that their leadership is not about the show or about the performance but about leading people towards the Father and allowing the community to join together in a chorus of unburdened, unhindered voices. There have been times where the people I worshiped with have felt like family and I've had a glimpse into what it must have been like for the church of Acts as they lived together in unity. These things are good to remember and I hold them dear.

The tough side of things is moving forward into a new church home. The consumer in me has certain things that I'm looking for. The part of me that sees the good of what has been wants to find that again. The "human" in me needs the accountability of being known and of being missed. It's far too easy to take a day off, to stay in bed, to go to the beach, to cut the grass, to enjoy coffee and a good book, to have brunch, to ride bikes and to simply just be. The side of me that is hurting - and perhaps a bit cynical - wants to stay away and not risk it at all. But I love the church. I believe in the power of being a part of a community of faith. If I'm being honest, I long for it and know that I need it. I know, deep in my spirit, that I am a healthier person when I give and receive in a community of faith and, right now, I know that I need that in a significant way. I would love to say that I'm hungry but I feel as though it's gone past that point...I want to be hungry. I know I should be hungry and yet it feels like so long since I've heard the whisper of His voice or felt the sweet touch of His spirit. I feel long past hungry. I have no real comparison to starvation and yet I wonder if this is what it's like, to eventually get to a point where the pangs of hunger no longer really dig in, knowing you need food but not really feeling the desire for it. And so there is a change in me and in my heart, a change in community to come as I look forward to finding a home.

Change in community has meant change in relationship. The freedom from the mantle of "pastor" has, in some ways, brought freedom to some relationships and I've found that they have become truer and deeper. Not that I felt dishonest before but I've found a freedom to be even more me. Scary, I know! Other relationships have felt the strain of distance and natural separation. When a weekly meeting is not scheduled, relationships change.

Through it all, one relationship has been a gift. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you've followed me through a journey of being a single woman in the midst of a married world, figuring out what it means to follow Jesus as a single woman in the church (and the world) and struggling with wanting to share my life with someone, to have someone to partner with. God, it seems, heard me in that too and has proven faithful in this area as well.

I've heard it said often (and most of the time to my frustration) that it is when you least expect it, when you quit looking, when you're "satisfied being single" (whatever that really means), that it is then that you find that special someone. As much as I've always hated those sentiments, they have proven true for me.

I have found my special someone.

Colin and I have been going to the same church together for years, since Journey began. From a distance, we have been in community together and observed the struggles and joys of each other's lives. In more recent years, Colin has served as one of my children's ministry volunteers, again, giving us the opportunity to see each other in action. This was no chase. It was without expectation. It was community. It was serving. It was being. And it was good.

But it got better.

There came a point when interest was sparked and we were intrigued. Time was spent in closer community as we both, without the knowledge of the other, wondered if this could be for real. It felt complicated and messy and surprising and right and, eventually, came to the point where one of us had to say something or explode. He caved first and I'm thankful that he had the courage to take a risk and share with me what was on his heart. I'm even more thankful that he has continued ever since.

He makes me laugh without reservation and holds me when I cry. He is the dad to two beautiful girls and I love what his being a dad shows me about him and his character. I love the way he loves his girls. He loves Jesus and wants to follow him, even when it's hard and when the way to do that doesn't seem clear. He stands up for what is right and has values that actually mean something to him. Chivalry is not dead with him and I am thankful that his dad taught him to open doors, to lift heavy things and to treat women with respect (not kid gloves but real respect).  He loves to mountain bike. The kind of downhill biking that requires armor and airtime. I love that it turns him into a little kid and that he pursues what he loves with passion and exuberance. I love too, that he works hard and plays hard. I have much to learn from him. He encourages me, supports me and believes in me and is willing to be open and vulnerable enough with me to allow me to do the same for him. He has lived through much, much that I wish I could take away, and I see how it has shaped the way he looks at the world and I am proud of him. We watch the same type of movies and TV shows, taking time to curl up and enjoy them together. He's a child of the 80's, loves "hair nation" on satellite and doesn't mind that I tease him about it. He knows the value of a good cup of coffee and knows the truth - Starbucks IS better than Tim Horton's (there really is no question, is there?!). He is a true friend and as loyal as the day is long. His circle of friends isn't huge but the ones that are there are dear, loved deep and I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that he would do anything for them and they for him. He is active and thinks about the ways to be a good steward of the body God has given him - and it shows (that's right, I think he's hot) - and helps me to do the same when I don't feel motivated. We can motivate each other in this and in so many other things. He listens to me rant and rants back. He's okay to just "be" and I love that I am okay to just "be" with him. With him it feels like home. He knows I'm feisty and doesn't see that as a weakness. He dreams about the future with me and together we share hopes, dreams and crazy schemes.

I feel as though God has shown me again the truth of His word. In James 1:17, it says that "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

He chooses me and I choose him and in that I know I have a gift.

On July 17, he said that he would choose me forever and asked me to do the same. On a bridge in the mountains on a mountain biking trail, this girl made a choice. She said yes.

 And so life continues to change for me. On October 15, 2011, we will say our "I do's" and begin a new chapter in our life together. There will be a new last name, new family dynamics to explore, new living arrangements (we're doing major construction in the basement of my place so we can all live here. All trades people are welcome!), and new roles to figure out.

And so, you see, there is much new, much change in my life.  A dear friend of mine noted that there is really nothing left to change in my life. Some days that's intimidating - counselor friends are likely watching me for signs of anxiety and, on certain days, would most definitely find them. I am overwhelmed by the mixed emotions of it all a lot of the time. I am processing much as each stage of  change teaches me more about myself and the world around me, requiring much. Admittedly, it seems easier when I compartmentalize and focus on one aspect at a time and yet, with so much at once, it seems impossible to separate one piece from another.

This is me, it is us, and, when all is said and done, it is good. I am required to trust in ways that I have not had to trust in a long time, if ever. I am forced to admit that I am not in control. Ug. I am constantly aware of new levels of vulnerability in me and it is both frightening and freeing all at once. I try to remind myself, on the days where it feels like there is SO much to do, that God's timing is perfect and that He doesn't give us more than we can handle by His strength. Most of all, I anticipate. I look forward to what is to come and to experiencing the fullness of what God has in store for us as we follow Him.