Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Little Liberating

Back in October, when Jay got really sick, we started making a mental list (followed by an actual written list, thanks to Jay) of all the things we wanted to do--our bucket list of sorts. At the top of the list was a trip to Germany. Jay spent time in Germany in both high school and college, and he has been intentional about speaking German to both Joshua and Clare in our home. So it wasn't a surprise when he said that taking the kids to Germany was really important to him. Of course the kids are too little to remember it, we reasoned, but that wasn't really the point. The point is that we will share the experience.

There's something really liberating about pushing the bucket list up a few years. We are trying to prioritize the things we want to do instead of trying to convince ourselves that we'll do things when we have enough money/when we have enough time/when the kids are older/when we'll enjoy it more. Yes, there are tons of reasons not to do it, but none of them cancels out the thought of sitting in a hospital room with Jay, thinking, "Boy, I wish we'd gone to Germany when we had the chance."

So while I am terrified by the thought of two children under the age of four suffering from jet lag, I am also somehow grateful that we don't have the luxury of waiting until X, Y, or Z happens. It's helped us to live in the present and realize the importance of having a good time together. We've always been delayed gratification kind of people, so this is a real discipline for us. One that I hope we won't ever take for granted.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Harder Than I Thought

Three years ago I was commissioned by the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church and became a probationary Elder in the conference. Six weeks later I went on Family Leave. Today marked the ordination of the group of men and women with whom I was commissioned three years ago. They have survived and thrived throughout three years of probationary membership, met together regularly to support each other, endured another round of interviews with the Board of Ordained Ministry, and undoubtedly done some wonderful things in their churches. Had I not decided to stay home with my children I might have been with them today.

So I've been a little teary today as I've read their status updates and caught little glimpses of how this next step is affecting them. Had I thought about it I might have made the effort to go to St. Charles and cheer them on. They are an amazing group of men and women with incredible gifts for ministry, and their ordination today makes me hopeful about the future of the United Methodist Church--maybe we can be a church that lives up to its promise of open minds, open hearts, and open doors. Maybe we can be a church that gives hope to the cynics and that lives out the unconditional love of Christ in all we say and do.

And while I celebrate with them, I can't help but think what my life might look like if I had chosen their path. What would my life be like if I had chosen to remain in the local church for the last three years? I willingly admit that part of me feels like I'm missing out on something huge, and today more than ever I am painfully aware that my choice to stay home with my children means that I have missed out on a different opportunity. To say that I don't have regrets would be a lie. No matter how confident I am that I made the right choice, my heart still hurts a little bit today because I realize the magnitude of the sacrifice I've made.

It would be so humbling and amazing to stand with my friends today and feel the hands of the bishop on my shoulders. Some days the feeling of my children's hands in mine make up for that feeling, but for today I will sit with the sorrow that comes with choosing one path over another. And I will rejoice with my friends who will have hands laid on them and stoles placed over their shoulders, and I will thank God for the call to ministry given to men and women who want to love the world as Jesus did.