Giving and receiving joy within this gift of life

Experienced the drive across Kansas again yesterday and today.  My parents and I headed toward home yesterday, and we drove in their driveway to find upwards of 12-15 inches of snow.  A neighbor had cleared the driveway and walk, something my dad has done for years for other folks, and since he and mom were down here with me, it allowed their friends to offer that gift.  He and I are both a little challenged in the receiving.  And at the same time, it was such a relief for all of us to be able to walk safely into the house.

The snow had landed so softly and without wind last weekend, and because they don’t have a dog, it was all still completely white and mostly untouched.  It does give the world a magical softness.  The roads were fine and plenty good for me to drive last evening to see a couple of those great-nephews hit the hardwoods.  I only yelled at the ref’s once, and it wasn’t too obvious, and the AD (still my niece-in-law) told me I could buy her off to let me stay in the gym with some chocolate, so we came to a quick agreement. It washed over me how many nights I was in that same gym practicing at those same basketball goals so many years ago there wasn’t a three point arc.  My first mentor, my HS basketball coach came quickly to mind as I greeted his spouse and daughter.  He believed more in my mind than any basketball prowess.  He died too soon, and yet his legacy echoes for me in the squeaks of the shoes on those same hardwood floors.

Pastor Nanette – Christmas Eve 2006

Several of my home people congratulated me on my now one Sunday left before retirement news.  Is it possible I still see a little question in their eyes that somewhere in the way back of their mind it remains:  out of all the people we might have ever thought would go into the ministry from this place, it would be you??? In a small town it’s pretty easy for most people to know how often I found myself in trouble and grounded.  Of course it had to be my old green Ford LTD that wouldn’t go in reverse that would also have the power-steering hose go out 6 miles from town as I drove a group of girls following, honking, and cheering as the boys bus left town for a basketball game.  We were turning around to come back to the school, so it wasn’t like we were going to be a long-term distraction, and besides, we were simply letting the boys team know how much we supported them!  I can’t remember how long I was grounded from driving after that.  “No pain, no foul” was NOT my Dad’s viewpoint on some, most, well, maybe nearly all of my life choices as a teen.  He and I both survived those rather tumultuous years, and we both mostly grin in the remembering.

There are those moments, I know you all have them as well, where it seems rather surreal how you got from there to here and full-circle back again in the rhythm of life.  The video roll of pictures on Sunday afternoon at our gathering, the choir and quartet, For Joy, the videos with former Associates Dustin and Shelly Petz and Steve Kawiecki, and the remarks by friends and colleagues, Ken Lutgen and Barbara Lukert, and of course colleague and dear friend Mark Holland doing his best as a Kansas City Kansan attempting cow jokes, all left me unexpectedly overwhelmed.  And beyond that, all your faces – smiling and laughing and sharing such joy.  Do you know that’s one of the bottom lines I believe God calls us to as faithful followers?  To remember, even in the most serious moments, that life itself is a gift meant to be shared and to give and receive joy?  I love that about Grace, and Baldwin 1st, Asbury and North Cross, the Valley where I grew up and my family – so many people in each place willing to laugh and rejoice giving us strength to walk through the serious and oh so sacred hard places as well.

In cleaning out the files in my office, yes, it’s still going on, thanks for asking . . . snort!  I found a file with a journal I started when I turned 32, an age I had always wanted to be, no, I have no idea the reason.  On the first page in trying to reflect on my call, I talked about being in love with life and seeing it as such a gift.  And that if I had anything to share with whomever I would serve, it would be that.  And that frankly, that’s why I have such strong belief in a good God – that God would know how great life is that God would decide it would last for eternity, simply in different forms.  In an academic paper, that statement would hardly hold water, but from a 32 year old Associate Pastor, it certainly was foundational to my ministry, and practically speaking, it actually still is. It will likely continue to guide my next chapter as well, whatever form that chapter takes.

In terms of blogposting, I am going to be taking a break for awhile.  Radio-silence from me will be helpful on several levels, and a pause during transitions of life’s work and focus is often a sacred time of taking a breath, looking around, and allowing a change in perspective to enhance the color and hue of voice and expression.  Plus, how many things will I have to talk about in terms of learning how to RV without breaking it or damaging the places and various elements thereof where I park, or denting any people that seemed to be further out of the way than I later experienced.  I’ll make sure that last one doesn’t happen!  It’s been such a gift to have a tech team that can post things for me without a second thought. Now it’s time for me to learn how that happens and realize it probably takes way more than a second thought, and perhaps for the challenged, it will take thoughts 3 through 123!  I believe old dogs can learn new tricks, I may growl and bark a bit in frustration at the learning process, but it will happen.

Until then, know that I will be praying abundant blessings and joy for everyone.  Peace and purpose for your days, and a minute, or maybe even two, of grace!

(link to video)

This is Pastor Nanette’s final Minute of Grace blog post.  If you’d like to read previous posts, we have them all here.
Nanette’s last Sunday at Grace will be January 29, 2023.  (see below)