Skip to main content

For Sarah, on her wedding week

Summer 2004.  I went to church and sat in my usual, near-the-front row with my sister.  There was a family sitting in front of us—a dad on one end, a mom on the other, and five precious kids between them.  There was a redhead with freckles cuddled up with the dad.  The youngest was a cute boy with a cowlick cuddled up with the mom.  The oldest looked like she might be student ministry age, so at the end of the service, I introduced myself to the family.

And the rest is history.

summer mission trip--where hair and makeup don't exist
That week I took those oldest two girls to ice cream at Friendly’s.  They talked nonstop, interrupting each other, fighting for the floor...and it reminded me of my sister and me...and I may have grown to love them that first day. 

They were in Powhatan, because their family was facing all sorts of changes and challenges.  And I will forever be grateful, not for the challenges they went through, but for the fact that God worked through those challenges and brought them here, to Powhatan, and to my life.

I was in seminary at the time.  There was one course I was most worried about—Basic Pastoral Care.  I just knew I would be awful at that.  But it turns out, God had created me for that kind of ministry, and those two girls would become two of my first victims of pastoral care.  They needed a pastor, and even though those were plentiful in their family, they needed a safe person outside the family.  I needed to learn what it meant to be a pastor—not just a leader or teacher or event planner—but a real pastor.

In the last eleven years (11?!  Really?!  I’m getting old...), a lot has changed.  I’ve gotten married, moved back to Powhatan, and had two kids.  That redhead with freckles has gotten married.  That boy with the cowlick is 16.  And that oldest girl gets married on Saturday.

babies
Sarah.  The oldest.  The one who sometimes knew too much, too soon, because that’s what happens with the oldest.  The one who sometimes took on too much responsibility, too soon, because that’s what happens with the oldest.

Sarah.  The artist.  The one whose voice stills my body and catalyzes my tears.  When I watch her worship God, I am reminded of that broken little girl who sat across the booth from me at Friendly’s, and I am overwhelmed at His goodness and grace in her life.  He has gifted her with an abundance of voice, passion, and creativity that overflows out of a tiny person.

Sarah used to take lots of photographs.  She once told me that when she takes photos of other people, she tries to help them see the beauty within, the beauty she sees that they don’t.  I wish I could give Sarah that gift.  I wish I could help her see the beauty I see when I look at her.  But I think, I trust, that God has sent someone else to do that for her—the love of her life, the man who becomes her husband in a few days—Max.

I am so grateful for this man I barely know who loves Sarah, who’s seen her at her best and worst, who shares her artistic zeal, who points her to God, and who grounds her.  And I trust that he sees just as much, maybe even more, beauty when he looks at Sarah as I do.

Sarah and I have been through lots of seasons in eleven years.  We’ve seen each other excel, and we’ve seen each other fail.  We’ve shopped, traveled, ministered, eaten ice cream, drunk lots of coffee, cried lots of tears, shared lots of hugs, and talked on the phone at all hours of the night.  At times I’ve disappointed her, and at times we’ve had hard conversations—some of the most heart-wrenching I’ve ever had. 

But a few things have never changed—my love for her, my pride in her, and my hope for her.

Sarah, you are a beautiful woman of God who deserves the full richness of his blessings.  He has uniquely created you to be who you are.  I am better for having known you, loved you, and served God with you.  Thank you for entrusting me with your secrets, your fears, your hopes, and your story.  Being your pastor and friend has been an honor, and I'm grateful for the blessing of knowing you.

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A Response to Charlottesville

Visiting our nation’s capital is an easy day trip for us, and how I chose to spend a precious vacation day this week.  I took pride in explaining the buildings and icons of my country to my children.  I am proud to be an American.  

But today, I am not proud.  
Today, I weep.

Four days ago, I saw the beautiful, infamous words “We the People” with my own eyes for the first time.  
Four days later, I am reminded of how far we still have to go to fully live into those words:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

What has happened 63 miles from my home, in Jefferson’s beautifully-domed, colonnaded city, is far from perfect, just, or tranquil.
This is not what our founding fathers wanted for our country, nor is …

A Message to Graduates

I have been a Pastor to Students (The title has changed numerous times; the role remains.) in Powhatan, Virginia for roughly 12 years.  I daresay I've been ministering to teenagers in this community longer than many.

Over the last dozen years, I've gotten lots of cool opportunities to minister to teenagers in this area.   But one had always eluded me--speaking at a baccalaureate service.  My husband had done the honors.  Other great pastors in the area had as well.  Once, I'd offered the closing prayer.  

This week, that changed.  I had the distinct honor to share with the PHS Class of 2016 at their baccalaureate service.  It was a wonderful experience working with great students, parents, and school leaders.  I'm so grateful for the opportunity!!!

A few people missed it and have asked to see what I said, so here it is, ALL of it:

June 1999 I sat in this space for my Baccalaureate service.  Before I was a pastor at PCC, before I moved back to Powhatan to raise my family, …

Disillusionment of Adulthood

Now that I’m in my 30’s, I must confess to disillusionment.  Growing up, I had ideas of what adulthood would be like.  I’m here, and it’s not entirely what I’d imagined.
For starters, I remember growing up amidst all the drama that comes with, well, growing up.  The gossip.  The hurt feelings.  The misunderstandings.  The fights between friends.  The back-stabbing.  And I remember being told that it would get better.  I’m not sure who told me that, but they were clearly wrong.
The drama may look a little different.  The words may sound a little different.  But the anguish of relationships remains.
Adults hurt each other’s feelings—intentionally and unintentionally. Adults nitpick and cause fights over inconsequential issues. Adults gossip. Adults cry, scream, and pitch fits. Adults build relational alliances, competing in “us vs. them” relational war. Adults let issues build and exponentially swell until they explode. Adults rarely identify the actual issue instead of the presenting issue. Adul…