Thursday, June 21, 2012

Blueberries made me cry yesterday...and if you keep reading you’ll find out why.

As I type this blog I am sitting on a comfy, familiar a messy unfamiliar house. But it’s my house. Our house.

On Tuesday, Joe and I moved our comfy, familiar sofa (and everything else we own) from 17 years of living and loving a church family and community in Alcoa, our new home in Cleveland (Tennessee, not Ohio, for the benefit of all my Ohio readers). Joe is the new District Superintendent for this area in the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church. He has 69 churches and 45 ministers to look after. Those 45 ministers are our new church family...and already many of them have stopped by or made contact with us and helped us feel at home.

Even with this warm welcome and beautiful home, I feel as though there is a big sheet of glass inside me that just one little push could cause it to shatter and break. I am feeling on the verge of tears at every moment. I know this will soon leave my being, but I suppose I am grieving...

Grieving that I’ve moved an hour and a half from our only daughter. (...and that for this summer her husband is interning in NYC and she is lonesome for him every moment of every day.)

Grieving that I’ve left an amazing church family behind.

Grieving that I left a wonderful neighborhood with exceptional neighbors.

Grieving for a ‘history’ of life in Blount County, Tennessee.

I’m also grieving for some kind of order...a feeling of normalcy. This house is filled with boxes and piles of things that I must slowly move through, unpack and make this new house a home. I’ll have to take my time so I can get it right.

And in the midst of this grief...I am so excited! This assignment for Joe is a wonderful opportunity to be a minister to ministers! Isn’t that a blessing? I know he will be effective as a Cabinet member. He is 62 years old and has stepped from his comfort zone...from a church he served happily for 17 years...and into a whole new arena. I really admire him for this leap of faith.

I’m excited about my role in all of have time with the ministers’ spouses of the Cleveland District. Joe and I have been in ministry for nearly 40 years, so maybe there will be some way I can encourage or motivate. Who knows? Well, I think God does and just maybe that is why Joe and I are in this place at this time in our lives.

I will still miss my daughter.

I’ll have another church family...many, in fact!

I’ve already met several of our new neighbors and everyone is so nice! There are three boys, aged 6 to 8, that live nearby...Hayden, Jackson and Caedon...with lots of energy and personality. As 8 year old Hayden was walking off last night he turned around and said, “It’s a great neighborhood! You’ll like it here!” And yes, Hayden...I think I will.

And as far as a ‘history’ goes...I must remember that when we moved to Alcoa 17 years ago, I left behind a history in Radford, Virginia. I then proceeded to make a new one, and will do the same right here in Cleveland!

As I continue to find my way around the maze of boxes in this house, the virtual sheet of glass inside me that I felt could shatter at just a touch, will soon disappear. I’ll be fine. I’ll never stop loving or missing Alcoa...the same way I’ve never stopped loving and missing McClure and Dryden, Ft. Oglethorpe and Radford and our church families in those appointments!

Not long after it was announced the we would be moving to the Cleveland District, the wife of another cabinet member told me that the spouses of the cabinet call themselves the ‘Spice Cabinet!’ I quickly replied that “ I must be a Spice Girl!” Remember them? I’m not Sporty Spice, Brown Spice, Posh Spice or Baby Spice...I think I’ll be Nutmeg Spice. The “Nut” part because I am. And the “meg” part because that is my monogram! (for Mary Elizabeth Green)

My sweet hubby, Joe, said I should be called “Old Spice” but I hope he’s had time to think about that one.

And about the blueberries...
The first Sunday at our church in Alcoa, the families there gave us a “pounding” which is where food is brought to the new parsonage family. “Pounds” of potatoes, sugar, flour, fruit, pasta, meat, etc. were shared with us.

The Hitchcock family gave us a pound of blueberries. John and Brenda, with sons David and Brian were the folks who gave us our first fresh fruit when we moved to Alcoa. The berries were delicious! They were grown right there behind the Hitchcock house. That was in 1995.

Fast forward to this past Sunday afternoon...
Brenda Hitchcock dropped by with a bag of chocolate chip cookies and a bag of blueberries. The cookies were a nice treat as we worked on the last of packing up the house in Alcoa. I saved the blueberries though. And today, I pulled them out of our new fridge to enjoy with lunch. I put several berries in my mouth and bit into their juicy goodness.

Then I cried.

Joe asked what was wrong. I couldn’t say, exactly. All I know is that those blueberries made me think of Alcoa. They reminded me of Brenda and her sweet family...John, who is now in Heaven; David, who travels to various parts of the world for Apple; and Brian, who is in Seattle, Washington with his wife.

Brenda’s blueberries made me cry. But they brought back a sweet memory from our move to Alcoa.

That was a new beginning in 1995...and in 2012, so is this one. We did fine there and we’ll do fine here. I’ll likely have blueberries for breakfast tomorrow and maybe I won’t cry this time. But if I do, Joe won't have to ask why...

Always remember that if you have a pulse, you have a purpose. Make your life count!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Purging and packing...

This month is momentous for us on so many levels:
My husband Joe, a minister in the Holston Conference of The United Methodist Church, is set to become a District Superintendent in Cleveland, Tennessee. Because of that appointment, we are leaving a church and community we have loved for 17 years. I’ve never lived anywhere for this long. It breaks my heart to think of leaving, yet I know we are meant to go. God’s hand has been traced through every circumstance surrounding this move. We sold our house (didn’t even put it on the market because a friend bought it) on a Friday morning and closed on another house (in Cleveland, Tennessee) the same day!

For the first time, we will leave our daughter behind. The farthest we’ve ever lived apart was the 20 minute drive to UT’s campus when she was a freshman in college. Now we’ll be 90 minutes away. Of course, she is nearly 27 years old, has a husband, a job, and a life of her own...but it’s still weird to think about. And before long, she will likely make a move with her husband to a new city and a new life.

We’ll go from one church to 69 churches and 45 ministers and Joe will be a “pastor to the pastors” for the next several years. Alcoa First UMC is likely the last church where he will serve full-time. After this job, he’ll likely retire. (But he’ll never stop being a minister...he’ll find a little church and keep on going just like the Energizer Bunny.)

I have known since late January that we would be moving. I slowly began to develop a plan of action. Slowly is the key word here. I’ve been sorting items that need to go to our retirement home in Virginia and things that need to move to Cleveland with us. I’ve also found out that 17 years in the same house causes one to collect a lot of STUFF!

I have too much stuff. Thankfully, I don’t have so much stuff that I could be on an episode of “Hoarders!”

I have stuff that is still packed from our last move. I’m not sure why I still have that stuff! I’m not sure why I thought I needed that stuff! And since I’m not’s out of there!

I have stuff that belongs to our daughter that she might want to add to her pile of stuff.

I have stuff that belonged to my parents that I cannot bear to part with, so I’ll keep moving it with me till I die. Never have I seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul, so someone else will have to purge THAT stuff.

I read several things about “stuff” in the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus...
stuff: noun
1 suede is tough stuff: material, fabric, cloth, textile; matter, substance.
2 first-aid stuff: items, articles, objects, goods, equipment; informal things, bits and pieces, odds and ends.
3 all my stuff is in the suitcase: belongings, (personal) possessions, effects, goods (and chattels), paraphernalia; informal gear, things.

How could that Thesaurus nail me so easily?!? It’s as if some one from Oxford came to my house and looked around...opening closets, drawers and cabinets! It’s uncanny!

And if something happened to my “stuff” I know I would survive. I’d probably be sad about it being gone, but I could live without my stuff.

I recently sold some antiques that I had purchased over the years. A friend asked me how I could have let one particular item go that I’d enjoyed so much. I told her that I have memories of it and it’s likely in a picture somewhere, but that it is just a thing. And it’s time for someone else to enjoy that thing.

There are other items that I cannot imagine letting go of...and they are just “things” too! But I believe I’m finding a balance here, and if I can keep the momentum going for the next week, I’m all set! The moving van arrives in 7 days!

My brother shared with me a quote he’d heard: “We endlessly define ourselves by what we keep and by what we throw away.”


"Houston, we have a problem..."

And always remember that if you have a pulse, you have a purpose. Make your life count!