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July 30, 2014

It's starting to feel like home

When we moved to Texas, we moved into a beautiful, newly updated duplex that our church provided for us. By far, it is the nicest place that our family has lived. And even though we will only be here a year, we are starting to decorate our home with real furnishings. Remember back to when you first started living on your own. That transient, cheap style is what has dominated our home decor since our marriage. We put together puzzles, glued them together and stuck them to the wall with 3M Poster strips. Most of our furniture is mismatched, since it was handed down to us or purchased from Craigslist / Goodwill / Salvation Army. Our home always seemed a little like things were just thrown together.

Although we still have a bunch of mismatched furniture, the biggest change has been how we are hanging things on the walls. Most of our puzzles have been exchanged for art work or framed pictures. We've started planning larger picture arrangements on the wall. It looks much nicer (and I feel more like a grown-up). I know that is weird to say since our son is turning one in less than a month. But things are starting to come together and most everything has found a home here in Texas.

A home is much more than furnishings. Wichita Falls is also starting to feel like home because I can leave our duplex, run some errands, and not once need to look up directions. We've tried some local restaurants, had many more recommended to us, got library cards, and been to the farmer's market (for the watermelon festival no less!). Although we are anything but locals yet, we are adjusting and making Texas our home. I'm starting to feel less like a tourist and more like a resident.

July 28, 2014

Howdy!

Greetings from Texas.  The recent lull in posts has been due to a very busy couple weeks.  The wedding in Alabama was beautiful.  The drive to St. Louis wasn't bad.  Loading the truck was not fun.  Driving through Oklahoma was better than I thought, though I am not sure what the toll money is going to because the road quality was much worse than any of the non-toll roads that I drove on.  Crossing the Red River was exciting, an then I finally landed in Wichita Falls, TX.

I was greeted by a group of gentlemen who unloaded the whole truck for me, and afterword took me out to dinner to what is now one of my favorite places: Cotton Patch.  It has delicious home-style food, much like a Cracker Barrel only better.  The first time I was there I ate a chicken fried steak that was really good.  After Marie and Levi arrived by plane the next day I took them there and ate their pork chops which were also really good.  Then, I took my dad there when my parents were in town and had the meatloaf which was also delicious.  We  also went to Jalapeno Tree which had some really good Mexican food.

Last Sunday I was officially installed as Vicar at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church.  Though I have been in the office for the past week and did half the service yesterday I am still waiting for it to sink in.  I have come to love living in Texas already though, and I also love the congregation.  Pastor Snyder, Linda, and Kianna (Church Staff) are all really fun people and have a good time joking around with each other both in and out of the office.  They have already treated me like on of their own (with Kianna already threatening to light me on fire yesterday) and I pray that wherever I end up I have people who surround me like them.

In addition to that, though, Pastor has told me that as a Vicar I am lower than dirt, he treats me far from it.  You hear all of the horror stories about vicarage at the seminary and so far this is anything but.  Pastor has treated me like a competent theologian and even a partner and brother in ministry.  He has already asked me my thoughts on different practices and doctrine that he has been thinking about and wrestling with or thinking about.  He has looked at my resources and has even asked me to look into resources for the church.  It has been great so far and I know that being treated in such a way is going to challenge me to make me think more about theological issues and who I want to be as a pastor and what kind of resources I want to use.

It has been a great week and I am still waiting for it to feel like work, but at the same time pray that it never feels like work.  I know that I will probably have frustrations and struggles this year, and as Pastor even said in his sermon last week many of them will be from my own doing, but in those moments I will just have to remember that God has chosen me, a poor miserable sinner who has received His sustaining comfort and grace, to bring that same comfort and grace to those around me.

Heavenly Father, thank you for placing me at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Wichita Falls, Texas.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn from a great man, Pastor Snyder, and help me to absorb the good things that he teaches me about ministry.  Help me to gain experience so that I can be a better minister to your people, both those that know you and those that don't.  In Your precious name I pray, Amen.

July 10, 2014

Moving On

Our time in Florida is almost through.  Marie is leaving this morning because she has to be in Alabama this evening for wedding stuff.  Levi, Grandma, and I will be heading out tomorow when Levi is ready to go down for his morning nap.  It's a six hour drive to Huntsville, meaning it is also half way to STL making the drive back easier.  Grandma is coming with to watch Levi during the things he can't come to.  It will give her some good time to spend with Levi, and it will give Marie and I the chance to spend some time alone together.  We're looking forward to that.  After the wedding it will be off to STL and then to Texas before we know it.

July 3, 2014

Update from Florida

It has been a great few days with Marie's parents.  Levi went swimming for the first time and loves swimming in their neighborhood pool.  He's already become quite the dare devil leaping out of daddy's arms and into mommy's through open water.  He's also put his head somewhat under the water...a couple of times drinking the water, we think on purpose.  He's also been to the beach and put his toes in the ocean!  I think the water was too cold and the sand too weird for him to enjoy it much.  He still enjoyed walking along the beach with mommy and daddy.

This morning I ventured out by myself into the ocean while Levi was sleeping.  I took one of Larry and Ann's kayaks and headed out.  I departed from the beach and went straight out.  I love kayaking in the ocean; it both is terrifying and blissful.  Terrifying because even when the swells are small they are still much lager than you are, terrifying because you don't know how much water lies between you and the bottom underneath, terrifying because you don't know what critters are swimming freely underneath you.  (I saw the tail of something quite large twice not too far away, but I think it was a dolphin.)  Yet blissful because you find yourself lost in God's creation, so far away from the beach that you can't even hear the playful noises of people splashing and screaming, so far away that the crashing waves are gentle swells.  You find yourself in the wide open ocean that you know was created by God for you.  It's just amazing and peaceful.

I'm really excited for tomorrow, though.  There is a neighborhood block party with a low country boil.  There will be LOTS of good food and best of all fireworks!  Larry (Marie's father) is buying the fireworks on the way home today and I will be in charge of the show.  I love setting off fireworks.  This will also be Levi's second experience with fireworks.  The last time was also at Grandma's and Grandpa's house.  It is going to be fun!  This weekend we are talking about going out on a sailboat and borrowing some jetskis.  Lot's a great family time and first experiences for Levi before going to Texas in less than two weeks!