Earlier this week, I wrote about how there is very little in this life that I actually did by my own strength. In fact, the things that perhaps I should be credited for are usually the things that go poorly. If I just slow down—if I just take time to reflect on where I am in life—I can see that it had little to do with my own power and might. With just a tiny bit of perspective I can see that my strength got me nowhere.
Why, then, do I still spend so much time taking credit for things that I had little hand in bringing about? Why do I have such pride in the things that “I” do? For the past three semesters I have been serving as a GTA (graduate teaching assistant) with an online class at Dallas Seminary. It’s one of the intro pastoral ministries classes and the content of that class has helped to remind me as to why I still try and take credit.
Everything meaningful thing that exists in my life has little (almost nothing) to do with what the amount of work I put in. I’m not just talking about my salvation—I’m talking about basically everything.
I know that such a statement is true for everyone, but sometimes it feels more acute in pastoral ministry settings. (Again, I’m not talking about super Christian-y things, just normal everyday things.) Here are just a few thoughts that remind me that it will always be hard to say that I did anything of significance by myself.
“For you” is likely a stretch since nobody asked me to start a new podcast, but it felt better than saying “for me.” Yes, world, a new podcast has been in the works and I wanted to share it on the blog because that’s some of my connection back to the Louisiana world. Drumroll please . . .
About a month ago I was talking to my cousin Evan about the potential of starting a podcast. He and I talk a lot—always have—and have drastically different interests. At the same time, there’s always been enough similarity, mutual respect, and collegiality (is that the right word?) that we thought we could give it a run.
There has been a lot of adjusting going on in our house since moving to Texas in July of last year. It feels a bit funny to say that but it is true. Though I am living close to where I grew up (an irony not lost on me because it was never on my bucket list to live near home), there have been a lot of changes that have come along the way. One of the biggest ones for me—specifically in regard to how I pursue pastoral ministry—is regarding time.
I’ve lived in Texas a little more than nine months. Granted, I came from Texas and went to seminary in Texas, but the majority of my adult life has been Louisiana. I think I still claim Louisiana as home. That’ll change after enough Texas BBQ, but for now I’m still more familiar with south Louisiana than I am with the Houston area.
With nine months under the belt, I wanted to give a brief update on life in Texas and some of the observations I’ve had. These won’t be super serious observations because I don’t have time for that. 🙂
One of the most eventful and travel-packed years for the Googers and we do not get a Christmas card or Christmas letter out. That’s what happens when you move, change jobs, live with your (Hans’) sister and her family for five months, renovate a house, run into problems renovating said house, move into that house, continue running into problems, and likely have more things to address. The Christmas card got cut for time and budget reasons. There was a moment—we had it lined up—where we were going to get pictures and get the party started, but the weather was bad that day and we never rescheduled because that is how 2018 has been.
Here’s your Christmas/New Year’s blog post:
Where to start? Well, our new house has gutters now. That’s nice. It needed gutters; but you probably didn’t come for the gutters or updates on them. You are probably curious about the family. We have updates on them, too.
First, the travels. From May until July we traveled to Kentucky (Hans is a Dr. now, but not the kind people really care about), to Texas, to Tennessee, to Virgina, to Washington DC, to Georgia, and back. Then we sold the house and moved to Texas. Hans got a job as a pastor at a church in Spring—Genesis Community Church—thus the move. From July until early December we lived with Hans’ sister and her family as we got adjusted—we pray they have recovered (in fact, they were awesome). Then, in December we got into our house.
All the kids are in the same elementary school, which sits at the front of the neighborhood. Ethan’s favorite things: recess is longer, no uniforms, and he can play basketball at said recess. Asher? Same. Abram? That his music teacher puts chapstick on his hand and calls it a “smelly.” Abram now will not leave the house without a big Ziploc bag full of chapstick. “My lips will never be chapped,” he says.
Both to give us something to do in a new city and give the kids other kids to meet (not to mention they both wanted to), Ethan and Asher played baseball for the first time. What did we learn? It rains a lot in Texas in the fall. Basically half the games got rained out and/or rescheduled. (By the way, who in the WORLD schedules 8pm Little League games on school nights? Crazy people.) Another thing we learned? Baseball is a sport with a HIGH entry cost—gray pants (but not too gray), navy socks, black socks, a belt, a helmet, a bat, a bat bag, a glove, etc. One time we couldn’t find Ethan’s glove so Hans ran to Academy to get ANOTHER glove. Shortly thereafter we found the missing glove in the bushes.
The new house has a double oven so Courtney makes twice the cookies. The old house had a double oven, too, but we didn’t tell you last year so we can now make that tidbit sound like new news. She’s also really loving the new king-sized bed because she can say “goodnight” to Hans and then not see him again for eight hours (more like five hours with how late she stays up).
In other news, Hans was pulled over for a traffic violation for the first time in his life this year. The speed limit on the main boulevard in the neighborhood? TWENTY. Fewer things are worse in the world of transportation than a posted speed limit of twenty in a place that is not a school zone. Luckily, Hans got a warning from the officer and the ability to tell the kids that he, too, gets pulled over. (“What does ‘pulled over’ mean?” asked Abram.)
A lot happened this year. Much more than the letter contains, but not much more that you’ll be interested in. The synopsis: we’re alive, baseball is expensive, chapstick is cheap, we live in Texas, and God is good.
We hope to be back in card and letter form in 2019. Until then, here’s a picture of us from the first night in the house: