Friday, June 29, 2012

moving moving moving

Just trying to do one thing at a time over here, and maintain some sanity!  In the grand scheme, we are on the final step of the packing-loading-driving-unloading-unpacking series.  We had plumbing, electrical, and construction that needed done.  Plumber is finished!  Electrician will be next week, and contractors will finish the addition by August 1.  We have had such splendid help every step along the way.  Friends in Topeka, Jeff's mom, friends here in Nashville.  We are so marvelously fortunate.

In the meantime, this makes me happy:

A perfectly organized cupboard . . . it won't stay that way for long!

Friday, June 22, 2012

big things poppin'

As in, really big.  As in, renovations and addition to our home.  We will be there in five short days!

Monday, June 18, 2012


On June 6, the clergy session of the Kansas East Conference of the United Methodist Church voted to ordain me.  This was on the recommendation of the Board of Ordained Ministry (our accrediting and credentialing body).  On June 8, the Bishop Scott Jones, and many other clergypeople, ordained me by laying on of hands. 

I am a person of words (many, many words), and yet I struggle to put language on what I was feeling. 

Ordination was both a culmination and a commencement.  At six years, this is the single longest effort I have undertaken.  In that six years, yearly rounds of interviews, papers, conversations, being-taken-to-task.  Three years of seminary with colleagues and professors who taught me more than I thought possible.  Working with three variously fabulous and unique senior ministers.  Working with two amazing churches.  Having three mentors show me hugely different models of women in ministry.  Getting engaged, married, and having a girl child.  Moving to Tennessee, back to Kansas, and now back to Tennessee. 

The fact that this process is sealed and finished is beyond relief.  It is a confirmation that what I have felt for half my life is truth. 

But it's really just a door that opened.  I walked through, and now there is a lifetime of winding road before me. 

In our Ordination Service, Bishop Jones outlined our most basic duties.

"An elder is called to share in the ministry of Christ and of the whole church:  to preach and teach the Word of God and faithfully administer the sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion; to lead the people of God in worship and prayer; to lead persons to faith in Jesus Christ; to exercise pastoral supervision, order the life of the congregation, counsel the troubled, and declare the forgiveness of sin; to lead the people of God in obedience to Christ's mission in the world; to seek justice, peace, and freedom for all people; and to take a responsible place in the government of the church and in service in and to the community.  These are the duties of an elder."

My heart thrilled to each phrase as I recalled instances of these duties in my ministry thus far.  Preaching, teaching, blessing, pronouncing forgiveness, counseling, leading, freeing, and serving.  I have done these things and will do them for my whole life. 

When I knelt before the bishop and heard him whisper "okay," then I felt that circle of fellow clergypeople and family tighten around me, then I felt the weight of all those hands laid on my head and shoulders and back, my eyes screwed shut and the tears poured down upon the Bible that was placed under my hands.  I felt the power of all those in the congregation gathered that night who stood in support and solidarity of my journey.  Those who had known me from my birth at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, all the way up to those who walked with me through the last two years of Residency.  I felt spirits hovering in the room.  Spirits of my mother and grandmother and granddad and Jeff's Pawpaw and so many others seeing me and acknowledging me.  It could possibly have been the most powerful moment in my life.  The moment Vicki Jo was laid, tiny and peering, on my chest is the only competition. 

Many special and memorable things happened that night, but a couple of them will stand out for me as time unspools.  The fact that my daughter got to be there, standing up with me and for me in her father's arms, and that I get to tell her about it in years to come, the same as I will tell her about her baptism . . . that is amazing.  And, of all the certificates and pieces of paper I have to commemorate the day, this one is the coolest and best:

I'm saving it just in case I ever get the grand privilege of ordaining someone someday . . .

Friday, June 15, 2012


Just a Friday photo to say "hello!"  Someone enjoyed herself very much visiting her new home in Nashville this week.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

the time we bought a house

It seems as though we have been in the process of buying a house for months.  I first found one I liked online about two months ago.  I got hooked up with the most amazing realtor, Beth Vincent, purely by chance.  She happened to be the one who answered my random, "I'm interested in this house!" auto-notification.  She began sending daily listings, Jeff went out to visit and look at homes, and we quickly sifted it down to just this one.  Our house.  We started talking dangerously about "our" house, like it was a done deal.  Nothing could have been further from the truth!

First came the bidding war for the outright price.  House Hunters (which I watch religiously on the daily) makes it seem like this is the really hard part.  And, at the time, it did seem like the really hard part.  We put in a lowball estimate that I was afraid the seller wouldn't take seriously, as she had already come $5000 off her original list price.  We haggled for about a week, finally settling on a price that was a full $15,000 off that list price.  Feeling pretty chuffed about this victory, we figured it would all settle into place from there.  We signed and faxed and scanned and signed and faxed (and then the scanner broke at work and that was no fun at all).  Recall, we were buying this house from 619 miles away.

Many people have commented that I'm insane for buying a house on which I had never laid eyes.  Funny enough, I trusted Jeff's understanding of my taste totally.  When he told me it was laid out and finished just like our old apartment in Nashville, I knew it was the one.  I loved that apartment and always wanted something like it.  It was a tiny (760 sq ft) foursquare:  kitchen, two bedrooms, living room, bathroom.  It was small, but it was just us and the pup, and I loved how cozy it was, not to mention easy to keep clean!

Additionally, we knew the exact neighborhood we wanted, down to a certain square-block radius.  I had rented at two different addresses in East Nashville during Divinity School, and I felt confident about what exact streets I liked.  That was a huge plus - not buying in a city we had never known before.

Many darling children all up and down the block, including Olivia and Maeve, apparently!

So, we signed a contract with the seller, pending inspections and financing.  Both turned out to be huge hurdles!

The inspection was first.  The guy from codes came out and found that the electric and plumbing work was original to the house . . . that is, 1930!  They both needed some serious love.  We got bids from contractors we know and trust and worship with.  It was about $10,000 worth of work.  Naturally, we felt that the seller should pay for this work, as it would have to be done to sell the house to anyone.  But she dug in, drawing us back into a bidding war for the work.  We wasted a couple of weeks going back and forth on that, fully intending to completely walk away from the house a number of times.

But, she eventually agreed to cover all closing costs.  That was a sweet enough deal to get us back in the game, and we moved on to financing.

Anyone will tell you right now that interest rates for mortgages are as low as they have been in recent memory.  We were pre-approved for a certain amount before we even started looking, so that I would know not to waste time with houses that were out of our price range.  Apparently pre-approval means diddly squat, because we became familiar with Brandon, our mortgage broker, demanding extravagant amounts of detail about the minutiae of our financial lives.  And I thought I was anal retentive about keeping records!  No.  He needed paystubs.  Then they needed to say something different.  They they needed to be from further back in the past.  Then they needed to "look more official," (whatever that means?).  He needed receipts, deposit slips, and letters of explanation for every deposit over $200 for the past two months.  When one deposit was a gift of money from Jeff's grandmother, he needed her account statement and a notarized letter certifying that she had indeed given us the money.  He needed employment offer letters, then he needed letters from my senior pastor, district superintendent, and bishop, explaining the vagaries of itinerant ministry.  I was prepared to pop a stamp on Vicki and put her in the mail a couple of times.  That's what I thought they may ask for next!

But yesterday, all of that began to fade in the haze that blissfully whitewashes traumatic experiences in human memory.  Jeff and I met at the title company, practiced our signatures nearly a hundred times each, and received our keys.  I felt like I had just finished a marathon.

And we have bought our first house!  (Or rather, the bank bought it and we now proceed to pay them twice as much as it cost them.  Sigh.)  I intend to do a room-by-room tour over the next few months, as we get settled, unpack, and rearrange.  But what I'm excited for, right now, are the small things:  central air, a bedroom with a closet for Vicki Jo, and the same for me and Jeff (that means everyone's clothes can actually live in their own closets!  Novel!), a dishwasher (!), hardwoods that aren't varnished in peeling polyurethane, a giant backyard where Pup can run free (and in and out of the doggie door), and real tile in the kitchen (not linoleum).

Pup giving the doggie door what-for.

Of course, I'm human, and so I will want more eventually.  But for now, I'm basking in the glow of our own little home-place, and longing for move-in day:  two weeks and counting down!

Friday, June 1, 2012

cautiously optimistic

Well, this home-buying thing ain't for the faint of heart.  But, I think I can tell that (unless the mortgage company does something really evil to us), as of June 11, it will be OURS!!