Adventure Graham

Snippets of Graham family adventures in faithfulness

Month: August 2015

Past Tense

Ready to start a new year at Parents' Day Out

Ready to start a new year (errr…3 months) at Parents’ Day Out

Were, I corrected myself. It’s past tense. I was introducing myself to the new pastor at the Methodist church as I dropped Q off for the start of a new year at Parents’ Day Out. “I’m so glad to meet you. My husband, Jaron and I are pastors at the Nazarene church,” I started. Wrong. We were pastors at the Nazarene church. As of Sunday it became past tense. Seven years and some change and that’s a wrap. I felt like a piece of my heart was being yanked out.

There are very few things that compare to being a pastor. Perhaps it could be likened to being a parent. It’s a role that bears the greatest privilege and the greatest burden. It’s a love for a people that is deeper than those people could ever imagine. It’s wanting even more for them than they could want for themselves… longing to see the God’s very best in their lives. It’s the weight of carrying their burdens and taking them to Jesus…over and over and over again. It’s the immense joy of celebrating their victories. It’s life together in covenant relationship as one body.

This past Sunday, as we stepped down from our roles as pastors at LovingtonNaz, it literally felt like we were giving up our baby. We are entrusting a people that we love dearly to another pastor who will shoulder their burdens and celebrate their joys, who will walk with them through the peaks and valleys of the days and years ahead. We couldn’t be more grateful that these people are our friends and partners in ministry. We trust them explicitly to lead our people into the future God has for them. You can hear the three-part sermon from one pastoral office here or get a glimpse of Pastor Aaron’s take on things in this blog post from Tuesday. It is all so right.

And letting go is still hard.

We celebrated with an awesome worship service and delicious burgers and homemade ice cream. The kids played with reckless abandon and adults laughed heartily. We anticipate great things for these people whom we love so much. With full tummies and genuine smiles, we meant every minute of it.

And there’s still a sense of loss.

Then, we spent a couple of hours on Facetime with the interim pastors at our church in New Zealand. There’s a people there who will be ours. They’re not quite yet, but they will be. We’ll learn to love them deeply, shoulder their burdens, share in their joys and long for God’s very best in their lives. They will become friends and our church family.

And all the while, we will be grateful for a community of faith in Lovington, NM who has loved us and shaped us, journeyed with us and given us the great privilege of being their pastors for seven fruitful years. Down the road, they’ll share their stories with us. We will cheer them on as they carry on the legacy. Together, we’ll rejoice over Kingdom victories that happen on opposite hemispheres. And we’ll celebrate the fact that in a way, they will always be ours.

 

But I Would Drive 500 Miles

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But I would drive 500 miles
And I would drive 500 more
Thankfully I don’t have to.

Jaron does.

Today, Jaron is driving 250 miles each way to El Paso and back. Uphill. In the snow. Both ways. It may be August, but that’s how it feels. We’re working on getting our Visas. We can officially apply for them September 1, three months before we leave. The stack of papers is as thick as the checklist is long.

Passports. Check.

Fingerprints for FBI background check. Check.

Multiple copies of passport style pictures. Check.

Detailed physical for each person, including chest X-Rays. Check.

Doctor’s signature across passport style picture verifying the identity of persons receiving physicals. Check.

Other detailed documentation. Check.

20+ work days to process Visa application. Problem.

We’ll be moving to New Zealand with very specific Visas. In order to process those Visas we’ll need to mail our passports after September 1 to Las Angeles along with all of the detailed paper work and completed checklist. It will take 20 working days + mail + government lag time to process our Visas. That’s if we have everything in order and if it all goes to plan. If it doesn’t all go as planned, as is often the case, it will take longer.

Here’s the problem: Jaron and Jaron’s passport will be in Ireland over September 1. Then, Jaron and Jaron’s passport will only be home for 25 working days before jetting off to the Democratic Republic of the Congo where he will be the team leader for a mission trip that has been in the works for 18 months. Mailing off said passport in such a teeny window of opportunity seems awfully risky in light of the fact government things never seem to go quite as quickly as one would hope. But the schedule gets even tighter. By the time Jaron and his passport will return home from globe-trotting, fewer than 20 working days will remain until we leave for NZ, thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Solution: Obtain a duplicate passport. Who knew it was even possible? Our field strategy coordinator enlightened us of the possibility, and Jaron’s stress-induced research confirmed it. With a specific and detailed letter, further paperwork, and a really legit sob story, one can obtain a second U.S. passport. However, for Jaron, that means driving a 500 mile round trip to the U.S. Passport office in El Paso to deliver said paperwork and sob story. Jaron’s second passport should arrive in five days, plenty of time for me to mail off our Visa applications while Jaron is gallivanting around the Irish country-side (over our anniversary, no less).

I am glad I am not the one driving 500 miles today, but if the truth were told, I’d be up for it if it meant I got to tag along to Ireland and the DRC. Happy trails, Jaron.

Hey Girl, Your Cellulite is Showing: An Open Letter to our Home Buyers

The house selling/stuff selling process makes me want to escape. This spot on the campus of PointLoma Nazarene University would do.

The house selling/stuff selling process makes me want to escape. This spot on the campus of PointLoma Nazarene University would do.

Dear Home Buyers,

We’ve made it to closing week. Maybe. Hopefully. Finally. We will forever be bound on some level by this entire summer of loan company bureaucracy, inspection hoops, appraisal disappointments, and an address we’ve called home.

As I cleaned the house for the last time, I couldn’t help but notice a few things. The red paint scuffs on the wall where I geniusly hung red picture frames low over Q’s changing table so he could knock them down over and over again. The one flaw in the oak floor that my husband (and anyone else he could persuade into helping) spent weeks painstakingly laying because I wanted solid oak floor instead of an easy-to-install manufactured flooring. The absurd number of holes in the wall that prove that no matter how much I measure and level and measure and level, I can never get the nails in the right spot the first time. The evidence in one of the front windows of an ill-fated meeting between a lawnmower and a rock.

The house just looked so exposed and imperfect. Like standing in front of a dressing room mirror with a swim suit on. “Hey Girl,” I couldn’t help but thinking, “Your cellulite is showing.” Without all of our pictures, furniture, and toddler toys, all of her flaws were just hanging out there. But the truth is so was her character. Even with the imperfections, she really is beautiful and strong and safe. I had to remind myself that those flaws merely serve as signposts to the stories of life that has happened within those walls. And the truth is that the grass looks really good, even in the blazing heat of August.

While I was cleaning, I didn’t just critique and criticize. Truthfully, I spent most of my time praying for you. I prayed that you would enjoy the sun streaming in the front windows on winter mornings and the breeze on the back porch on summer nights. I prayed that you would walk barefoot across the cool grass. I prayed that this home would be a place of safety and refuge for you from the demands of your jobs, the girls’ schedules, the expectations of others, and just plain busyness. I prayed that in this home you would pray often, speak words of encouragement, extend hospitality, and experience peace.

I imagine that the living room carpet will soon enough be covered by the sleeping bags of giggling pre-teen girls. As those days unfold, I pray that you would have the wisdom to parent them well and point them to Jesus. I anticipate that some of the marks left from our life there will soon be covered by hot pink and neon green paint or zebra striped bedding. That’s quite all right with me. As you paint and unpack, I pray that you will sense that this house and the people who have lived in it have been shaped by love. I pray that you will continue to foster that.

So, don’t mind the cellulite. The massive bare spot in the back yard grass that marks the location of the septic tank will only serve to remind you of the gazillion hoops we’ve jumped through this summer. The currently untamed garden area will speak to the endless possibilities that await. Move in, get comfortable, make it yours. I just have one small request. Please don’t forget to water. 3 times a day. Every day.

Blessings,

Elizabeth (and Jaron and Q)

It’s in their Blood

Mutton Buster #107

Mutton Buster #107

Q with his buddy E at the mutton bustin'.

Q with his buddy E at the mutton bustin’.

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Captivated

Captivated

Jaron & Q... it's in their blood.

Jaron & Q… it’s in their blood.

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The Graham family squished into the rodeo box... a family tradition.

The Graham family squished into the rodeo box… a family tradition. Family selfie courtesy of Tyler Graham.

 It’s fair and rodeo week around these parts. Before moving here, I had a vague semblance of what these things must be like….something about cowboys and carnival rides. Don’t get me wrong, I had been to a rodeo once or twice. But that is nothing compared to a rural county fair and rodeo.

When Jaron first told me about it, I admittedly patted him on the back and said, “Oh, ok. Whatever you say. Sounds pretty great, alright.” Then, we moved here. I was quickly indoctrinated into the way of things where everyone plans to get back from last minute summer vacations, the whole town shuts down early for the fair parade on Wednesday afternoon, and the 68,000 county residents come out in force for night after night of concerts, cowboys, and funnel cakes. The 4-H kids and senior citizens alike make massive showings with items and animals to be judged. It’s the kind of thing you buy new duds and get dressed up for. There’s something for everyone for nine solid days. If you live in Lea County, it’s what you do.

I may have been born and bred a suburbanite, but Jaron grew up corn fed by rural life, raising chickens and sheep and steers to show. He actually made money off of it. He attributes everything he knows about Robert’s Rules of Order to being his 4-H club president. In families like his, being a part of the fair and rodeo is tradition passed down from generation to generation. His mom was a barrel racer, his aunt the rodeo queen. Three of his grandparents have been honored at an annual ceremony during the rodeo remembering fair and rodeo contributors who have died in the past year. It’s in his blood.

It must be in Q’s blood too. He cannot get enough. He waited anxiously for an entire year to try his hand at mutton bustin’. Never mind that he chickened out once he actually got on the sheep. He proudly placed his golden sheep participation trophy on his nightstand all the same. He’s worn his starched blue shirt, Wrangler jeans, belt, boots, and hat to the rodeo two nights in a row, seemingly oblivious to the fact that sweat is trickling down his face and pasting his hair to his head in the 100+ degree heat. He has watched captivated night after night for hours past his bedtime as horses and riders have galloped and bucked around the arena. It’s in his blood.

Yesterday Q asked Jaron’s mom, “Gigi, am I going to have to sell my cowboy stuff?” We laughed, but the truth is there’s a price tag on nearly everything in the poor kid’s life (except his cowboy stuff). Actually, Q, I’ve got good news for you. Google provided significant evidence that they actually have mutton bustin’ in New Zealand. With more sheep than people in the country, we shouldn’t be surprised. Even better, there’s a New Zealand Rodeo Cowboys Association and we should arrive just in time for rodeo season on the southern hemisphere. Even on the other side of the planet, we’ll continue to foster a love for all things farm and ranch related.

In the meantime, we’re soaking up every minute of the animal barns, carnival rides, fair booths that sell pop guns and give away free popcorn, and cowboys in action.

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