Thursday, September 18, 2008

What was I THINKING?

So, over the last few months, Mr Nice Guy and I have slowly begun the process of paring down some of our commitments and responsibilities. It has been such a refreshing feeling to know that we can take a breather from stuff, but still be involved in what we choose from the sidelines. Now, I wouldn't diagnose our condition as "burnout", but I'd say that if we kept up the pace with what we were doing, we would find that condition affecting us rather soon.

The church we attend is a half hour drive from our home. In the former community that we lived in. We packed up everything and left, but we could not leave our church family. It was the first real church family we've known in our marriage and we were hooked! And they... I might add, were hooked on us. So, when we moved, the decision was made to stay with our church for a couple years and then slowly progress towards finding a church in our own community. With our own people. Our own kind, if you will. Ok, that's just baloney, but you get the drift.

Well our "own people" population has grown to include even more relationships back in the OLD town, and not so many in the NEW town. I try, I do... but I am not doing such a great job at it because all my time and energy is spent in the OLD town while all the nice people here in my NEW town never see much of me.

This is the life we lived: (I say lived, because some of it has changed since this past spring)

Monday: Monthly trip into old town for girls night with my girlfriends
Tuesday: Kids Tae Kwon Do lessons in neighboring town, but not as far as old town
Wednesday: Drive to old town to lead a small group at 6:30, get home around 11 pm
Thursday: Drive to old town to participate in worship team practice by 7 get home after 10 pm, all this after TKD lessons in neighboring town too.
Friday: Do whatever I dang well please but it usually involved getting homework and housework done in a hurry so we could have a date night and the weekend to work on other stuff outside
Saturday: Work like heck at home and sometimes take a trip into old town to get shopping done. Big things like Costco, the Farm store or the big home & garden store are all there.
Sunday: Drive to old town to be at worship team practice by 8 am, leave the building by 1 pm. Drive back to church at 4 pm for youth group and drive back again to pick up my youth at 6:30 or 7 pm. Drive home in a sleepy state of mind and pray that I enjoy taking Monday off. Yeah right. The house had a bomb go off over the weekend. Like clockwork.

Wait, did I mention that Mr Nice Guy WORKS in old town too? He's already driving there five days a week. And did I mention that we own a Suburban. Yes, I am still afraid to do the math on that one.

Now - some people thought we were crazy to do all that driving for "just a church", but others felt that what we were doing was sacrificial and quite honorable. I'm not sure what to call it, but we've just taken to giggling over the fact that we are secretly "missionaries to another town".

This past year, we had The Talk. The one that happens when a couple is all alone driving in the car and it's easy to have a conversation without stale french fries hitting you in the back of the ear. Or old milk cartons. Or worries about eavesdropping by pre-teens.

Somehow, the topic came up about our church. About our kids. About us. We both realized at the same time, that something was moving both of us to change something in our lives. It's that kind of realization that comes over you when you see someone you haven't seen in 3 years while you're on vacation half a continent away and you both say, "Hey, what are YOU doing here? Isn't this cool that we're at the same place? What a HUGE coincidence?" Well, that's kinda how it went down. Only in this instance it was our feelings, not our location. And it was no coincidence.

We determined that while we loved, adored, admired and really truly ENJOYED our home church, we were being called to do something different. We felt a tug to get more involved in our own community, yet not quite sure what it entailed. Ok then, so we pray and we listen. We listen. Hello? We're listening! OVER HERE!! *tap tap tap* Yeah - you know what I'm saying. We waited, and we talked, and we came up with priorities. Number one in our family after God, is our marriage. Number two, our family. Number three, our church and the relationships with our friends. Well that made things easier. So we went down the list and UNCHECKED the stuff that was causing numbers 1, 2 and 3 to get muddied up in the water.

Just so you know, our marriage had been doing pretty well. Had? I mean it has. Yeah, that's right. We LED the small group for only married couples studying only marital issues. It was great. Before that, we taught a blended families class. (It was great too, I highly recommend it.) So, since our marriage was going well with the new tools we had learned, we decided to press the issue of turning our small group over to another couple of very capable people. They said yes. We were delighted. We did NOT, however give up Date Night. See priority number 1.

Then, I asked a daughter of a friend to invite my daughter to the community youth group here in town. She said yes. And, matter of fact, so did my daughter. Wow, we got to come straight home after church two Sundays in a row this month! My daughter really enjoyed the youth group here in town, and better yet - she rode her bike. She now has a few people she can connect with at school that she can trust, and our family is mentally and physically better because of it. See priority number 2. Fantastic!

Breaking the news to the Worship Team didn't go so well though. They weren't expecting it, and there was some confusion about why we'd WANT to leave the group. It is still hard to explain that we do not WANT to leave the group, but there are other things that are pressing on our hearts and we know that we'd better listen. We have no specific plans to vacate that role or our church any time really soon, at least not until our new Associate Minister gets hired. Part of his job will be leading worship - it feels great to know that we're moving forward.

Our responsibility as Sound & Media Ministry leaders is still in place too. Matter of fact I am kind of excited to get to spend more time focusing on that and getting the team stronger before we turn it over to someone whose name we do not know. Mostly that means I have no idea who, but God will provide, right? I just put together a schedule clear through December and told God I'd be fine if it was the last one I got to do.

Mr Nice Guy's job as a Deacon in our church doesn't include many extra commitments since he is already so involved, so we've left that alone for now. My how our plates are getting lighter!

I should also point out that the kids haven't been to Tae Kwon Do since some time in June. Look at all the money I've saved in fuel alone! Look at all the time we've got to spend together!

In the meanwhile... I'd like you to take a look at this list of "replacements" and see if I'm completely mentally insane, or if I just can't handle having rest time...

I signed up my eldest for Volleyball. I'm already a line judge for the next few games, and I'm feeling an intense craving to get more involved. I love volleyball! (And, she rides her bike to practices, and we're spending time together!) (And, she scored the winning points in BOTH of her games so far. Mind you, this girl has never played before)

I attended my first parent club meeting since living in our new town. They tried to set me up as Vice Prez after I made some comments about budgeting, but I hastily declined. I told them after I get my spiffy new Vice President glasses I'd think about it. In the meanwhile, I did sign up to publish books this year and work the book fair during two open houses at two different schools. *smacks forehead* If I don't meet more people in my community after all that, then it's my own dadgum fault.

I'm a kindergarten play dough maker now

I agreed to help in the 3rd grade class once a week (or "so", whatever that is)

But the doozy or is it doozie? Maybe it's doozey. The whopper, is something that my husband actually is taking the lead on. Ever since we attended Nightstrike in Portland almost three weeks ago, he's had a VERY HUUUUGE desire to do something about living out his faith. Not just talking about it. I know I didn't post about Nightstrike, but it's because it was so big to us that I didn't know how to put it into words. Let's just keep it simple... and say it was AMAZING. I never knew that being in the company of homeless people could be so satisfying.

From their website:

Washing feet, cutting hair, hair washing, clothing distribution, great food, great dialogue, and a whole lot more happen under the Burnside Bridge in the downtown part of Portland every Friday night. This incarnational approach to reaching some of Portland's neediest people seeks to build bridges of love and encouragement. People ask why we do what we do and our answer to them is simple: "We are just loving on Portland the way we think Christ would have if He were here in person with us today." That is what we attempt to do each week at Night Strike.

We have, in the last four days, managed to get a meeting with our pastor, get his approval for us to MOVE on this thing we feel moved about, and organized a large group to go back to Portland in only 2 weeks to do our mini-mission trip all over again. Only this time with more STUFF. We've got plans for a sock drive, a load of blankets and sleeping bags, toiletries, financial donations and I also know we're taking a bucket of Peggy's Famous Cookies with us (sorry, no website, she's all ours!). Mr Nice Guy's idea is to see ALL the small groups in our church get involved in some way - whatever works for them - to allow our church as a WHOLE to participate in taking care of the least of these. I can't speak for my husband, but I think that being prompted to let go of some very well-meaning ministries, was truly paving the way for something better. Something bigger.

I know what I was thinking when I jumped in with both feet. I was thinking that I LOVE my life, and I enjoy learning new things, meeting new people, having deep faith and LIVING IT!

Sidenote: If you are at ALL interested in attending with us - or if God has pressed something on your heart to participate in some way, please contact me. I'd love to talk to you and give you ideas on how you can participate. YOU will be blessed because of it! I know I sure have been! WE NEED SOCKS!


Agent K said...

You are so brave! 'Nuff said!

I love ya friend!

Agent K said...

OK, one more thing...

I like how you are changing things around...lookin' good!

My word verification for the last comment was: fajoyboi. LOL!

Misty said...

i felt like reading your post was a stress on my own over commitments... you wore me out. That's a lot of changing.BUT it all sounds so positive and, I'm glad you are feeling blessed...

When is nap time?

Mokihana said...

Good for you! Seems to me you're both making some really good decisions, even though it's hard to leave things behind...

Livy Renee said...

FANTASTIC LEXIE!!!!! I think you guys have this whole family, church, community thing down to a science. I can't wait to see the changes that are coming for your family... love you sweet friend. Livy

Amydeanne said...

you know i totally understand that.. we're 25minutes from our church in a different area and we still drive in.. doesn't make sense to me when i know there are churches locally... so i totally understand how much of a change it is..
hugs to you and yours for breaking forth!! WTG!

and socks? adult/kids? I'm assuming for the ministry? or ya wanting me to knit a pair? lol.. cuz.. ummm they would be a bit holy.. and not in a good way lol

Grandma Dora the Explorer said...

I love your new life too! Go get 'em and hang on for the ride!

Grumpy Momma said...

What a wonderful, wonderful post!

You write so well.....I loved the analogy of meeting a half a continent away and seeing some one you know there.

A lot of what you wrote about, so far as getting priorities straight in a family, my husband and I are going through now. I hope we manage to communicate and follow through as well as you both seem to.

I look forward to reading more...

Shabby Olde Potting Shed said...

Oh Alexis,
You've been through alot.
We too, felt that tug on our heart to move on... and we walked in the wilderness for a loooong time knowing what we were supposed to do or where?
Finally made the move, and it is very different than what we were used to. God totally took us out of our comfort zone. I'm still praying He shows me more of what He wants from us.
Your Homeless aide sounds wonderful!
I'm really proud of you, and happy you are walking in faith and LIVING IT! PTL
You are a very special person Miss Alexis and I am so happy to know you.

Peggy said...

you are walking the walk big time Lexie,you and Mr.Niceguy,it was great to listen to what he had to share today.
I love you guys,

Jen said...

I try to be really careful about taking on too many commitments. I agree with the way you have ordered your priorities. It is easy to forget what really matters when you are shuffling back and forth from activity to activity. Good luck with your new plan.