Friday, June 30, 2006

The Whole Family Arrives

The first picture is of the back yard and the back of the moving van. The place looked so nice and inviting as we walked through and checked everything out. They have provided all new appliances and furniture this year. We've never had such nice furniture!
We posed for some quick smile shots . . . then we began unloading. The unloading made a mess of the place and (more than once) wiped the smiles off our faces. Still, no matter how sweaty and harried the unloading process, it beats packing and loading the stuff. The last picture was the one I took this morning as I left the house to get busy on some more reading. As you can see, we were able to bring order out of chaos.

After posting this entry of my blog, the family and I will run back to Johnson City to pick up my car and to drop Meg off at Katy S's house. She'll spend the night there before going with the Grandview youth to New Orleans for the mission trip.

Becoming the Wilmore Wymers (or Aaron at Asbury)

Check out my sweeeeeet ride. U Haul is the new Hummer . . . I promise. All the movie stars will be driving them soon. Meg played an important role on this journey. That's because the little "air vent" window (and you have to be over 30 to have any idea what I'm talking about here) whistled like a cartoon wolf every time we got up to speed. Something had to be done, or I was going to go insane. Meg took my hat and then kept it stuffed against the whistle spot (using her foot), thereby restoring my sanity.

Meg took a picture of the warning against driving the truck beneath overhangs. This was to remind herself that next time I ask her to tell me how far I can back up, she should look UP as well as down. (Don't worry, disaster and damage were avoided).

If this is a life-sized statue of John Wesley, then I may become a Methodist before this year is up! Meg and I walked around campus on the way to get our key for our new home. As you can see, we occupy the left door. The door on the right belongs to the Layer family. They are really fun. Scott (the dad) is easy to be around, as is Kate. They have 4 children--with one more due in August! Scott is going to have to study AND be the father of an infant.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

We're Here . . . and Boxing

No pictures. I'll have to upload some from my phone . . . maybe tomorrow. I have to find the patch cord to transfer them.

The trip up was great. Meg and I drove up in the U-Haul, picked up the keys, walked into the house, and Cindy and the girls followed close behind. We unloaded the truck as quickly as we could, then we helped our new neighbors (the Layers) get unloaded.

After that we just emptied box after box after box. We're tired and excited both. Cora is in kid heaven, and there is one young'n Anna's age as well. Meg will be the old lady of the kids around here, but she has tons of places to walk and to enjoy. She seems pleased.

Cindy is working on the kitchen area as I type and seems to be pleased with our new digs.

Tomorrow (Friday) we head back to Johnson City so Meg can go on the youth trip, and to pick up my car. Now I've GOT to start reading some books.

I'll post pictures ASAP.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Last Sunday, Part 1

Our farewell Sunday at Grandview was great fun. The services went well (except that I didn't warn my youngest two that we'd be going forward at the end of the services for prayer . . . this led to crying in public . . . oh no!).

We were all reminded what a great family we have at Grandview. Not pictured (because it didn't come out well) is a picture of Maylinda. Maylinda gives great hugs on Sunday morning and I will miss her tremendously uplifting presence. You do see pictures, though, of a tiny fraction of friends who were a part of saying good-bye. There were too many pictures for this blog alone, so there are two parts to this one.

I'm only writing briefly because of time constraints. Maybe once we're settled in Wilmore I can write more!

The Last Sunday, Part 2

I think I'm overloading this entry with pictures, so I'll only give a brief explanation. These were all taken at the "We'll Leave the Light On For Ya'll" Celebration on Sunday night. Good music. Funny speakers. And Good Friends. Thanks to everybody (especially Yvonne Marr) for putting this together. The Swains remain amazingly talented. The speakers, Craig, Becky, Dirk, Nicole/Hylda, Katy, Donna, and Cassidy all made us laugh (as you can see from one picture especially).

Any way . . . the truck is loaded and we're about ready to drive north. More on that as it happens (actually, with blogging, I lag at least a day behind--usually two).

Thanks again to everybody for making my family feel special. We'll miss you!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

From Wilderness to Wildness

On Friday I zipped down to the Appalachian Christian Camp in Unicoi to pick up M and A. Here they are, looking weary after a nice week at camp. M was a part of the Wilderness Camp, which she enjoyed very much--thanks to counsellors like Mo, Ada, and Sam!

Her sister, A, had a fun time as well, and I'm happy to see a developing friendship between A and Abby, who has been visiting Grandview lately with her family.

The girls came home to a house that was being sifted by our process of moving. We spent our last night in the house on Friday night. Before bed we sat around recalled various events from the past 8 years. It's easy for me to forget that our house on Hilton Lane will always be "the" house from their childhood (the only house C remembers . . . she was 3 months old when we moved here).

Last night (Saturday night), we stayed at Ted and Jane-Anne's house. It was nice to be back in a "settled" house. Ted and Jane-Anne are away and letting us stay there until we drive away (Wednesday morning).

As I type, it's Sunday morning and I'm getting ready to put up the computer and head to the church building. This is my last Sunday for awhile. Writing the sermon was hard this week because of the busy-ness, the text, and the occasion. I'm also feeling some of the same sadness the girls are. There have been moments this past week when I've had to stop and ask myself, "What in the world are you doing?"

I'll chalk it up to nervousness. God's hand has been more visible in this process of going to Asbury (being selected for the Beeson Fellowship, selling the house, buying the new one, the quality of staff at Grandview, etc . . .) then I could have hoped.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Still Going Well!

Thanks to any of you who have been praying about our transition to Wilmore. Things continue to go really well. Our closing was moved from Friday (today) to yesterday because the lawyer's wife had to have some surgery. The house closed without a hitch. The first picture is of Joel and Stacy, the new owners of the place where I'll be sleeping tonight (for the last time) with my family. Thanks to Joel and Stacy for letting us hang-out at the house for a few more days! Most of you know that Lorna Crouch is the third person in the shot, smiling after successfully executing another home sale.

Thursday was a nice day, all around. It started with a surprise fare well from my friends at Panera Bread in north Johnson City. The "Via" crew at Panera sectioned off my normal corner and decorated it. The yellow mustard packets spelled out "BYE" and they gave me a free coffee and pastry . . . AND a Panera Coffee tumbler. While I was placing my order, they decorations to my car. The "Via Panara" crew are the ones who put together special orders of pastries, lunches, and such. If you have any catering needs that call for Panera food, call Kaci at 794-8210. She and her crew are hard workers. Thanks to all of you for making my last day at Panera so nice!

It wasn't just the Panera employees who were being nice; my coffee clutch buddies were all there too. We sat and chatted for a good long time. In the group photo, from left to right is Harold, Harry, Bob and Bonnie, Frank, Wayne, and Robbie. The conversation with Harry was particularly poignant. Harry has lung cancer and the doctor's estimation for him is only a few months. Harry appears to be at peace with the time frame that's been given him. He's an inspiration and a fine man. If you have room on your prayer list, add Harry and his wife.

At the end of the party Harry stood up and said, "Aaron, I have bigger plans than to be here to welcome you back." It's surprising how different good-byes are when you're pretty certain it's the last time you'll see someone.

Besides a Panera Party and closing on the house, we got a lot of packing done (thanks Jerianne, Marissa, and Spencer!). It was a long, but very good, day.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The New House and the Move

I've been meaning to take the time to show you the house we are attempting to buy. It's close to the church building and sits on a nice wooded lot. The current owner is refurbishing it with new plumbing, electric, flooring, kitchen, light fixtures. The circumstances of the deal are such that we will be able to afford it even though we won't be able to move in immediately.

We close on our current house this Friday. Everything has gone really well on that front. The new owners are great. We're praying that they will enjoy the house as much as we did. It was kind of sad on Sunday afternoon (Father's Day!) when we gathered around the dining room table for the last time as a family (M and A are at camp this week--see the pictures from dropping them off on Sunday afternoon).

We thanked God for the many meals we ate together in that place and began anticipating new meals in new places (There may be a communion meditation in there somewhere).

When you think of it, pray for our move. Make the better part of your prayer into thanksgivings, because things have gone so well. Right now our furniture is slowly disappearing into the storage unit, along with boxes of things that we won't be using over the coming year.

Oh . . . I almost forgot to mention that my mother-in-law made it up for a visit this past weekend. Barbara flew-in from Naples, Florida to look at the new house and to consider buying the lot next to it. She would like to build on it eventually. She liked the lot and we think she's going to be our neighbor someday. That should make for interesting blogs in the future! We had a good visit. Here she is with the girls at supper on Friday night at Chedder's in Johnson City.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Hoosier and Back

My family and I traveled back to Indy this past week, spending more time in the car than we did in Indiana. We drove up on Tuesday, back on Wednesday. The reason for the quick trip was that my sister's family was stopping in Indy en route from Maryland to New Mexico. My brother-in-law (Captain Hook--seriously, that's his title and name) is in the Navy and being relocated to the southwest so I don't know when we'll see them again. Their oldest son (who happens to be my oldest nephew) was with them and my dad had a graduation celebration in his honor.

The above pictures are from the gathering in the backyard of my boyhood home. You can see family members with friends of the family sprinkled-in. There were around 140 people there (i think).

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Day to Day

I'm discovering that the logical flaw of keeping a blog going is that when there is something worth reporting, I tend to be too busy to report it. When I have time to work on the blog, it's usually because I don't have much to report.

The past few days have been busy with normal things, hospital visits, adminstrative tasks, sermon writing, wedding rehearsal followed (of course) by a wedding, packing and storing things for the move, mowing the lawn, trimming the hedges, reading for my DMin class (though I'm lagging behind there), and last, but not least, house hunting.

That's right, house hunting. More on that later.

The first set of pictures are from Nick and Bre's wedding. They are a fun couple and I know they will be make a great team.

The last picture is of my neice and nephew, Olivia and Gideon. Could they be cuter? They came down with my sister, Connie, and her husband, Deon, to assist our house hunting. Again, more on that later.

Growing through the Stress . . .

I just finished another book for my first DMin class: Growing through the Stress of Ministry, by Susan Muto and Adrian van Kaam. I really liked the message of this book, though (by way of review) it isn't written especially well. The thesis of this book is that ministers should be prepared for difficulty and stress in their calling. How can you be a follower and disciple of a man who died on a cross and then be surprised when stress becomes a part of your ministry?

The solution, according to the book, is to become comfortable with our limits and confident in God's grace and activity. Only when we take a longview of God's grace and ultimate victory can we rise above the kinds of stresses that tend to cripple ministers. Trusting God is the key at every turn, according to the authors.

While reading this book I was struck by how much easier this message is to receive for people who are naturally optimistic. Essentially, that's what the book calls for, an optimism based on God's faithfulness in the big scheme of things.

Some good quotes:
  • "The most serious consequence of the [minister's] erosion process is that it may progress to full blown depletion. It's main symptom is inner, not outer,withdrawal, a depletion of presence, not of action. Looking good becomes the mask behind which we hide the fact that our caregiving lacks the will to preceed with courage and candor."
  • "The illusion of being available at all times to all people, while pretending to bear sole responsibility for solving their problems, is the main source of our stress."
  • "If our ministry fails it is not because of a lack of grace. Divine direction disclosures are revealed through our daily circumstances, no matter how trivial they may seem. Instead of cooperating with God's plan, we may have insisted on being in control. We opted for overextertion, undue speed, and ego exaltation rather than being content . . .."
  • "A contemplative orientation relieves us from too much inward concentration and the torment of incessant self-examination."
  • "When coercive directives rule our minsitry, we want to grasp at success as swiftly as possible. We become impatient with ourselves and others, anxiously pursuing goals that yield honors and privileges at the expense of other people's needs. Under such circumstances, we find neither peace of heart nor the motivation for wholehearted commitment."
Most of these quotes assume that ministers have "spent themselves" in service of God. That's a problem for some of us, but my experience has been that the ministers who feel the most stress are the ones who have been lazy and then wake up surprised that the congregations they serve resent them.

Both extremes are dangerous, and both extremes are what this book seeks to help ministers avoid.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Last Elders' Meeting

Now that June has arrived I will be experiencing that series of "last time before I move" events that people notice as they transition from one situation to another. Tuesday night falls into the category of last elders' meeting. Of course, since it is June, attendanced flagged. Bill is in Eastern Europe, Craig is with the CAT Team in Pass Christian, MS., and others were traveling as well.

We started the meeting by going over the plans for the new kitchen with the architect. I was proud of myself for remembering to ask some questions that I didn't know to ask before our first building project. It is a simple series of questions. The fact that I didn't think to ask it before reflected inexperience on my part. If I ever write a book for ministers leading building projects, this will get a chapter:

"What kind of hardware do you have planned for the doors? Will they stay open if we want? Will they lock if we want? Will they stay unlocked if we want?"

I think our last architect turned those decisions over to a designer of haunted houses. Doors should never slam and lock behind you in a church building. Nightmares are made of things like that!

The meeting was a normal elders' meeting, for the most part. I will get to meet with them again before I leave. We have a morning prayer (only) meeting on June 20th.