Monday, November 17, 2014

Costume Changes, Venue Changes, & Celebrations

 Here's an attempt to recap the last four weeks of life.  Lots of photos here and not much reflection.  I'm writing from Texas, though, so although the days here have also been full, much is removed from the full plate called Life in Massachusetts.  Being 2000 miles away gives a little space to think and thank the Lord for an overflowing life. Time to write it all down, too ~ or at least to get it in the archives via photos.  If you actually read all of this, I'll know you love me. And I'm repeating myself, I know.

On October 17 we took a field trip to Boston.  It may have been the largest group I've ever been on a field trip there with, but it also happened to be the group with the most cooperation and fun. Thanks CC friends!

On October 18 my friend Rachel and I took these ladies to a teen girls conference called Simply Beautiful.  It was a wonderful day of worship, Bible study, hearing "stories" from lots of different young women, and even sessions on fashion/modesty and healthy, homespun skin and body care tips.
 We drove straight from the conference to a dinner gathering of old friends from near and far.  It was a part of our church's 15 year anniversary celebration weekend, and it was so wonderful to see everyone.
Robert and the guys ~ every one of them is a husband and father now.
The girls and me ~ all amazing 30-somethings, 40-somethings now ~ and ALL of whom I knew as college students
 The next morning we all worshipped together.  John and Cindy began with a song we used to sing "back in the day."  I was in tears right away, and they lasted pretty consistently throughout the entire service. John was a transfer student who helped start the church from day one.
 When we moved to Massachusetts to plant Meryhouse, Kayla did not yet exist!  This next photo contains another photo of us a year and a half into life and ministry in Massachusetts.
Not really circa 1850.  More like March of 2000. Kory was 5, Cooper was 3, and Kayla was 8 months old.
We all went to visit Robert in the UMass Student Center where our church was doing a Spring Break send off for students.
 Lois did such a beautiful job playing for the service, but she could hardly make it through her own tears.  She joined with us only about a year into the plant, and has only grown more beautiful and in grace and skill and faithfulness with each passing year.
 Matt M. preached for us that day.  He had been a member of our church while a student and football player at Amherst College several years back, and since graduation has continued to serve our church with fundraising and alumni support.  We missed having his wife Janet and their new baby with us.  We have such fond memories of their time at Mercyhouse and of celebrating their marriage here.

It was great to have Greg with us that week!  He also led a directed prayer time in the service.

And these ladies used to BABYSIT Cooper ~ and the rest of my kids, too. So wonderful
to have Rachel and Virginia back for a visit after their years at UMass!
All staff and elders were thanked ~ and I got flowers!
Then it was time for Free Rides ~ which is an outreach our church has now been doing for 16 years.  It is always held on Halloween weekend, and provides a Free Ride to anyone who calls our number from 10pm to 2am. This is the weekend with the most "incidents" in our college town.  I have NEVER helped with this outreach at all until this year. (Small children, early bedtime, escaping chaos, etc...) I am awful at coming up with costumes, and I don't really like Halloween at all, so no one in my family ever has a costume until about an hour before we need to ~ or not at all.  This year was really no different except that in the hour or two before we had to be at a party and Free Rides, I got an idea, walked to Good Will (all vehicles were in use), and put this costume together. Really. A quick trip to Target for some electrical tape was the only other shopping required.

You have to be a Taylor Swift fan and be familiar with this video to truly appreciate this.  
"Rapper Taylor" ~ Shake it Off
 Kayla, on the other hard, ALWAYS has great costume ideas, so she outfitted her friend Jayden and herself, and we all went to Free Rides to work the 9pm-12:30am shift.  Actually, these girls were troopers and made it through the second shift as well which lasted until about 3am.  They were "runners" ~ relaying the "riders'" pick-up information from the switchboard team to the dispatch team that night.

 We've had a friend staying with us for the last few weeks.  Kevin (middle) is working on starting a ministry and non-profit organization in the Dominican Republic community our church has been working with for the last two years.  He and Pedro were connected by Robert due to their mutual concern for the country, and they are a powerhouse duo to be sure.  Kevin will soon move to the DR and begin work on a soap-making factory that will enable the women especially to make an income and provide a sustainable industry for the benefit of their community.

And can I just tell you that I thought my pastor was looking especially handsome that Sunday?
A handsome man in a button down shirt and coat, preaching God's Word with power and humility.
He gives me flowers and foot rubs, too. Wow.
 Because of the youthfulness of our church, a hospital visit is most often a joyful occasion...
Got to visit Liz and Ellie!  Aren't they so beautiful?  Would you believe Liz was the first to respond to an email
I sent out the next day regarding help with a women's retreat coming up?  Yep ~ Mama of two now, barely home
 from the hospital and and still eagerly desiring to minister to the women of our church.  Only by grace.
 The next celebration and costume change was for Lois's 40th birthday.  We'd been planning it for about two months.  A 1970's style bash, we knew that forgoing a costume was not going to be an option. I ordered my wig a week before, and a friend (thanks, Sarah!) let us borrow a brown cape. A re-purposed tan sheet and another trip to Good Will for a white long-sleeved top was all that was left to do a couple of hours before the party. Whew.
 A running  costume was needed about 12 hours later for a half-marahon with my friend Betsy. (How did all of these events converge in the course of a weekend?) Due to exhaustion, I had no intention of staying with my speedy friend, but God sustained us up the first seven miles of HILLS (no kidding) and allowed us some of our fastest times ever.  It was a beautiful day, and I'm so thankful for Betsy's friendship these last 15 years. She's one of the very first people I met after moving here and she even happened to be a neighbor then and now.
Two days later had Robert and I back in Boston and me on a plane to Texas to celebrate my dad's retirement from Resistol-Stetson Hats, or HatCo as it is now called. On Wednesday night my sisters and I found ourselves in sea of cowboy hats as my dad was honored for his 43 years with the company. He was referred to as a "legend", a gentleman, and best all-around dancer. Talk about a costume change.  I even wore boots.  I've never really been brave enough to pull off a cowboy hat, though.
Curtis inherited my dad's sales territory.  He has been working alongside and serving my dad for over 20 years.
A silver engraved belt buckle and this signed photo collage were his gifts.
 Lots of layers and Baylor Bear gear was the next required costume change.  Even though we had returned from Dallas just 24 hours prior, my dad and I packed up and headed back up there (really, nearby Ft. Worth) for Kory's baseball game against TCU. It takes us about four hours one-way, partly because my dad likes to stop at every Starbucks along I-35 which is just fine by me.
 It was 40 degrees and the wind was whipping. I thought I was back in Massachusetts at a spring ball game with the heaps of blankets, layers of clothing, and gloves we were wearing. My dad skipped a couple of innings so that he could warm up in the car for a while.
Super short stop out there!
They played great and won the game 5-0.  It was SO wonderful to see Kory play, and I especially loved hearing all of the joking and laughing between the guys on the team. Sophomore year has been stressful in more ways than one for this kid, and I pray that baseball continues to lift his spirits and relieve some of the stress.
I head back to Massachusetts today looking forward to more celebrations ~ especially those of the holiday season and two of my siblings coming to celebrate Christmas with us. The weeks of costumes and celebrations and different cities have caused my soul to feel pretty weary, but my heart to feel so full ~ and those really are different things according to my seminary reading for the week. My soul/person/body is exhausted by people and places and parties, but my heart/spirit are full and alive because of the goodness and kindness of the Lord in all of those things.

I know many of you must feel the same way about the pace of life right now.  I'm asking the Lord to help me (and you) to trust Him in the midst of the chaos and even trust Him to embrace it with a smile. My introverted self wants to frown, complain about, and hide away, avoiding all of this activity.  Jesus in me sustains and empowers and gives joy.

Hope to see you soon and with more reflection and less focus on my crazy calendar, but the historian in me can't let so many family and church happenings go undocumented!

1 comment:

sweetly broken said...

Well, I for one read it all. I enjoy reading all you've been up to. It's good, God-glorifying work, Melanie. In our family's move back to the U.S. from "island life," our/my world has been rocked with the busy pace and spin of schedule. I often think of Brother Lawrence who in time of business, said [it] "does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the Blessed Sacrament.'" I think of you in his words. Grace and peace, Kristin