Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Cloud Has Settled!

Now that I've been here in Connecticut for nearly a week, I thought I'd post a little update on life in New England:

I arrived on Wednesday after a 15 hour drive from Bloomington, and I began work the very next morning. On Thursday, it appeared that the cloud had indeed settled...along with 50 or so of it's closest friends. Thankfully, the overcast skies have since cleared off and we've been having the first bit of true summer Connecticut has seen yet this year. I still chuckle every time someone complains about how hot the lovely 83 degree days are...these folks sure couldn't hack it in the south! (I'm sure they'll be saying that I'm a wimp come winter...)

This week has been a myriad of random errands (bank account, cell phone, etc.) and just digging into the new job. I'm living with a dear colleague these first few weeks while I get settled and hunt for an apartment. Everyone at the church office has been amazing--I've felt very loved and cared for already! And I've had the opportunity to hang out with lots of people from the church: students, 20s-and-30 somethings, parents, etc. I've located the mall--of course :)--and I've talked with the manager at Williams-Sonoma about transferring my part-time employment from Pottery Barn Kids. Whew! It's been quite a week.

If you think of it, please pray for the following:
-That I will speedily find an apartment and be able to negotiate a more affordable rent. Everything's expensive here! I especially want to be sensitive to where the Lord might want to place me in regards to location and whether or not I have a roommate.

-That I will continue to acclimate quickly to my job. We have two youth retreats coming up a month from now, so I'm already a little behind! Additionally, the new high school youth pastor starts this week, so the Emerging Generations team is in a season of transition right now. Pray that our personalities would mesh for the glory of God.

-That I will develop meaningful community here. I've met lots of wonderful people and I'm so excited to form new relationships! I'm also wanting to connect with sorority sisters from Richmond in the area, so pray that I would be able to balance work, church, and other relationships in a way that honors the Lord and sharpens me.

-That I will make a smooth transition from missing life in Nashville to loving life in New England. I hate the feeling of missing people and missing out on fun times and community in Tennessee, but I continue to sense that this place is going to bless me greatly over the next few years. I've already seen God's graciousness to me as I move from one season into another.

If you want to learn more about Walnut Hill Community Church, visit walnuthillcc.org. You can listen to Senior Pastor Clive Calver's sermons, find out more about the vision of the church, and even browse staff profiles to "meet" my co-workers.

God is on the move at Walnut Hill and in New England! Stay tuned for my musings on Christianity in this corner of the world.

Thanks for waiting on this cloud with me!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Urge Congress to End Child Slavery: A Message from IJM

I received this e-mail from IJM and thought I'd post it here to let you know another way you can be involved in advocating for millions of children enslaved around the world. This month, I will be meeting with a Member of Congress in my new district in Connecticut to promote the Child Protection Compact Act (CPCA). You, too, can effect change by writing to your Representative in support of the CPCA. See IJM's e-mail below:

UNICEF estimates that there are nearly 2 million children in the commercial sex trade worldwide.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Cambodian law enforcement rescued Veata* (pictured at left with her IJM social worker) from a brothel at the age of 13 with the help of International Justice Mission. She’s healthy and happy today, living in a small aftercare home with caring staff who love her.

The traffickers who exploited her are serving 16-year sentences for their abuse.

You can help stop these crimes — Share your passion with your Member of Congress.

This month, hundreds of IJM supporters will meet with their Members of Congress to urge them to support the Child Protection Compact Act of 2009. This bill supports poor countries’ efforts to stand up to criminals that traffic children by investing in effective law enforcement that puts traffickers and slave owners out of business and behind bars.

Please help us make the abolition of child trafficking a priority for Congress by urging your Representative to cosponsor the Child Protection Compact Act today.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Eyes Have It: A Tribute to My Last Days in Optometry

I've loved working here at the Spectacle Shoppe. It's been a fun opportunity to learn a new industry and a whole new set of skills, and I have loved watching this practice grow the past year! In order to commemorate my last couple of days here, I thought I'd share a comedy routine recommended by a patient and also by my dear ol' dad. Check it out!

So there you have it. A peak into my life this past year :) Also, I thought I'd mention that Real Simple did a great feature last month (proudly displayed in our magazine collection here at the office--yes, I realize I'm a huge nerd) about eye health. You can read it here.

Keep Your Eyes Healthy
7 Ways to Protect Your Vision

I'm passing the torch to my sweet friend Robin--a Tri Delta sister from U of R! So come see her if you're in the market for a great pair of glasses! And schedule an appointment here if you need a new eye doctor!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Following the Cloud: An Update


It is with much excitement (and also a twinge of sadness) that I write to tell you I have taken a job at a church in Fairfield County, Connecticut just outside of NYC! This e-mail is mostly to make you aware of my change in location, but I also want to take the opportunity to brag on my big God :)

As most of you know, I have been looking for a ministry job for more than a year. I've been super blessed here in Nashville to be near so many dear friends, and God has lavishly provided work, freelance writing gigs, the opportunity to begin my Masters of Divinity at SBTS, and two amazing living situations. Even so, I think I've learned a little something about desert wandering! I've clung to the image of the pillar of cloud leading the Israelites through the desert: when it settled, the Israelites encamped. When it moved, they moved (Numbers 9:15-18). And so I've encamped here in Nashville, a place that I love for so many reasons, but where I have been unable to find the kind of job I'm after. It's been a fruitful season because, after all, the "cloud" is the very presence of God.

In December I applied on a whim for a high school youth pastor position at Walnut Hill Community Church in Bethel, Connecticut. As you've probably noticed, I am a lover of warm weather and Southern culture, so living in New England seemed like a stretch. But the job description read: "if you're looking for a place where it's safe and easy to be a Christian, this isn't the job for you." I was hooked. I sent my resume that day and promptly received a reply from Craig, the pastor emerging generations (children, youth, and young adults), saying that they were looking for someone more qualified. I wrote back and, expressing my confidence that I could do the job well, asked him to please pass my resume on to the search committee. He wrote back within the half hour and said that he was impressed with my response and would pass my resume along. I heard from Craig a few days later, and he told me that unbeknown to me, some dear friends of my parents, the Shockleys (some of you Vale-ers will remember them!), were church members. Scott and Denise were on the search committee, and although my family hasn't been in touch with them since I was eight, they recognized my name in the stack of resumes! (It has been so much fun for my family to reconnect with these sweet friends!)

Craig and the Shockleys were kind enough to let me interview for the position, even though it's a big enough ministry that they really do need someone with more experience than I have. But as we continued to talk, they asked me how I would feel about taking a different role at the church. It's taken several months for the pieces to come together, but they have tailored an existing job to fit my gifts/interests. As the "Emerging Generations Team Coordinator," I'll be planning events and executing communication for the whole team (youth, children, and college students), plus developing curriculum and doing some teaching and discipleship specific to youth ministry. It's really a dream job for me; I'll get to use my degree, develop my writing, and best of all, spend time with students! How good of God to make me wait all these months so that I couldn't boast in my own chutzpah, but only in His perfect timing and plan for this next season of life :)

I'm so excited about this move, even though I know it is going to be a big adjustment. Walnut Hill is one of only two churches in all of New England that has surpassed 2,000 members. Its size and resources have uniquely positioned the church to equip smaller churches in the area that desire to be a beacon of light in the Northeast. I'm going to miss living in the South, and the sweet fellowship that this place has yielded, but I'm truly thrilled to be joining a ministry that desires to proclaim the gospel in the Northeast!!

I leave Nashville today and will be at home in Bloomington until Wednesday, when I drive to CT. I'm hoping to see lots of you B-towners while I'm home!

Thanks for walking with me in this new adventure! If you're ever in NYC or New England, please holler at me--I'd love to see you.

With love!