Evan and I arrived in our new city of Fresno Monday night, exhausted from plane delays and running through airports. Gilbert and Ann picked us up and whisked us away to Mimi’s for a yummy dinner. We have spent the last couple of days recuperating from all the work of moving and the emotions of leaving our beloved friends in Missouri.
Life Church threw an amazing going away party last Wednesday night. I told people it was like going to your own funeral and listening to the eulogies. We were beyond blessed to see friends who drove over an hour to say their good-byes. We laughed at stories that were told about us and cried when the stories were about challenges we faced with our friends.
Sunday, however, was painful. Our friend Jeremy, one of the elders at Life Church, gave a wonderful and humbling message about following God wherever he takes you. Then was the time for prayers over us and the actual personal farewells to our church family. There is no way to get past that without tons of tears. Over and over I was reminded what a blessing it has been to serve with all these people. It is a great comfort to know that we will be together in eternity.
There is much to be written about the weeks preceding the move. I plan to elaborate over the next few weeks but for now I need to get ready for a 4th of July party where we will meet new friends for this next season of our life. Hug and appreciate those who you live life with every day.
My family & I are freshly back for 8 days in Fresno. It was quite the trip. We arrived Friday evening and were whisked away to an amazing, authentic Mexican restaurant where we made up for the lack of airline food. We had left at 7am (CST) so by 7pm (PST) we were faint with hunger. Well, okay, a mild exaggeration.
On Saturday there was a church picnic at a beautiful park. We had a chance to meet some new people, refresh some friendships, and eat fist sized strawberries. Well, okay, a very slight exaggeration. There were games planned by the lovely Alejandra who had devised games that kids and adults could play together. Pure genius, huh?
Most of the week was spent meeting with church people, looking at houses & one amazing apartment, and enjoying the California weather. Harold had interviews with 2 different property management companies. He is awaiting a follow-up phone interview with the company who, coincidentally, owns the amazing apartment complex where we want to live. Well, okay, not coincidentally.
We got back to the ‘ville on Saturday evening and have been recovering ever since. Right before we left on our trip, a realtor in town had a couple who he wanted to show our house. That happened the day we left. Today we signed papers selling our house! It’s stunning how everything is falling into place so quickly. We will be out of our house on July 1st. Which is coming round the bend at a ridiculous rate of speed!
In the last several days I have felt at turns overwhelmed, overjoyed, exhausted and full of energy. Mostly I feel like a good cry would really help! (It’s a woman thing.) I’m sure I’ll get there soon.
Thanks to everyone for their prayers. We have felt them and needed them!
We are currently in Fresno doing some footwork in preparation for our move in July. The weather is wonderful, we’re having a blast visiting our new family at Bread of Life, and everything feels like it fits perfectly.
Yesterday morning as Ann was driving us to church I thought suddenly “This is where I live now!” Hopefully my current Life Church family understands what I mean. We have about 10 weeks until we officially move but our hearts are already here. I feel a renewed sense of purpose which is so refreshing.
At Life Church I am busy handing all the multitude of things I do over to other people, which is sad, as endings can be sometime.
The house is finished and in the process of being sold and may well be by the time we get back. We have a solid offer that we might take. Everything is winding down and packing up. Our 21 year season is mostly done and the new one begun.
I feel the most awkward sense of excitement and sadness. Thankfully God meets me every step of the journey. Looking back I see his grace and blessing and looking forward I see the same. He is the one constant in every phase of my life and words will never express my deep gratitude to him!
For today off we go to explore the new land of milk and honey He has given us, with songs of praise in our hearts.
Our house is, as I mentioned yesterday on Facebook, ridiculously clean. It has stayed that way this week because of a Herculean effort on our part. I have always kept a casual house, not too messy, not too clean. Because we are getting ready to put it on the market, we now have to live like obsessively clean people.
Since last weekend there have been lots of discussions on staging, packing, painting, etc. The owner of the largest realty office in town came by yesterday to see the house. A friend of ours, Jeremy, had told him we were getting ready to put it on the market. Mr. Realtor was very impressed with what he saw. He is bringing a young couple to see our home today.
We were a young couple when we bought this house 21 years ago. It was the first house we bought which means this is the first house we have sold. It is more emotional than I expected. All the cleaning, rearranging, trying to figure out what a buyer would see, gets to me sometimes. Everything seems to be moving too fast almost. I mean our house isn’t even on the market and people want to look at it.
In the midst of this we are going to go to Fresno to scope out the land, looking at neighborhoods, jobs, etc. I have been thinking more about Peter, walking on the wet, sloshing waves, his eyes on Jesus keeping him calm and full of faith. Oh, and the part where he looks away and ker-splashes into the ocean as if someone had dumped Peter into a dunk tank. Of course Jesus rescues him.
So today I am avoiding the dunk tank, focusing on the only one who can keep me safe and dry, Jesus Christ, my calm in the storm
Yesterday was the day we were all dreading. It had been in the works for months. We had made a couple of trial runs but the day had finally come to send the Bedford family to Fresno, CA.
We started the weekend off with a going away party Friday night. The celebration began with a time of worship. I must say I am so proud of my husband for actually singing the songs and not crying instead. There was a slide show where we all wondered where the time had gone. We laughed, a lot. We cried, a lot. And we ate, a lot! We were joined by our wonderful friends Doug & Denise Kreighbaum. Doug was one of the founding pastors of our church so it was wonderful to have them on hand. When my family and I got home at 12:30am I told my husband I expected for Sunday’s final good-bye to be harder than the party.
And it was indeed. I started crying at the first song. My plan had been to pace my crying (and emotions) but yeah, that didn’t happen. The Bedford’s have been here 16 years & we’ve been here 20. Harold & I have served alongside Tom & Andrea through good times and horrendous times. And we will be joining them in a few months in Fresno to help Bread of Life Church. Somehow I thought this fact would help me through the goodbyes. But the memories were too overwhelming.
My favorite memory that pretty much sums up our personal and pastoral relationship with Tom occurred four years ago.
Evan woke up Saturday morning at 5:30 with chills that rapidly turned into vomiting & a high temp. … The doc wanted Ev to immediately go to our local ER. We jumped in the car & got Ev there right away. Fortunately our good friend, Dr. Jerry was the ER doc that day. After a preliminary exam it was apparent that Ev’s blood pressure was decreasing rapidly & his heart rate was rising. We were told that he was in septic shock, which means that there was a system wide infection in his body. HIs body was working hard to keep his major organs functioning. The doc’s in the Big City pulled together a team & flew to our town to get Evan & fly him back to Children’s Hospital. Our friend & pastor, Tom, stayed with Evan at our local ER until the team got to our town. (What I didn’t mention was that Tom stayed with Evan from the ER until he was loaded on the life flight. We found this out later) We got in the car to make the 4 hour drive, hoping to get to Children’s before Evan. He has been in ICU since Saturday evening.” (You can read more here)
So on the worst day of our life, the one where our only child nearly died, Tom was there, willing to stay with Evan until he either took his last breath or got on the life flight. If Evan had died holding Tom’s hand & not ours there would have been no one else who we would have wanted there. Fortunately for all of us that did not happen.
We made it through Sunday and I have to say that while all of us at Life Church will miss the Bedford’s we are also excited for their next day in Fresno and our next day here. I am very grateful that my family and I get to be here for a while longer, helping anyway we can as our local body and leaders step into the next adventure God has for us.
So off they go with the love and blessing of a very grateful church.
There are people you recognize just by the sound of their voice. You hear a familiar voice in the grocery store aisle and instantly know who it is. A flood of memories come back even if it’s been years since you saw that person.
What does that say about us? Some people are carved so deeply into our being, some for good and some not so good. They will always be a part of our personal sound track. It’s like hearing a song from high school and remembering where you were when you first heard it. My Uncle Wayne, who helped raise me for a time, has been dead for several years but sometimes when I am out and about I think I hear his voice. My heart irrationally leaps for joy even though I know he is gone. And sadness comes when I realize it is someone else’s voice I hear.
On Nightline this week there was a segment on Alzheimer’s Disease. Dr. Robert Stern of Boston University School of Medicine said that the last thing to go was the person’s emotional feelings. “They might not remember who you are but… they still can connect.” I believe that the sound of our voices help carry those feelings. It is good to know that on some level love cannot be truly forgotten.
The voice of God is that way. I don’t mean the voice that you hear out loud but the one you hear inwardly. It reminds us of our love for him, where or who we were when we first heard that voice calling us to a higher purpose than our own selfish desires. Even if we have walked away from God and our faith, the sound of his voice instantly reminds us that we are connected to him.
Have you experienced the voice phenomenon?
Going to Wal-Mart in my town isn’t just going shopping, it’s a social event. Anytime of the day or night you are bound to run into someone you know. I know tons of people here because I worked at the university for several years, worked at the hospital in admissions, and am on staff at one of the largest churches in the city. Add to that my son being in Special Olympics and part of the sizable disabled community. I am routinely shocked by how many people I have shared parts of my life with.
After work today I ran to Wal Marts (as it’s called here) to pick up a few things. When I got out of my car I saw my former student, Shelby. As soon as I walked inside I spied my friend & current coworker/church member Jodie. We had just told each other goodbye at work and here we were, together again. After that I chatted with someone I had met at the hospital. Sheesh! I just wanted milk!
Then, unexpectedly, in the detergent aisle, I choked up, my eyes started to tear, and the realization of how much I enjoyed being in a place where I knew so many members of my community. That never happens in big cities. There was no previous experience that prepared me for the feeling of not being anonymous in a grocery store. Or at the gas station, McD’s, or the dentist office. I will miss this enormously. I will miss all of you, people of my life, more than you know.