I'll begin this one by saying that the past week and a half might have had some of the most memorable moments of life change I've had packed into a short time in quite a while. Things in me are changing. Things in my community are changing. Things in my family are changing. All of these changes somehow wonderful and difficult to swallow at the same time.
It's summer time. Hot and humid, which I'd take over dry heat any day of the week mind you. People...humidity means that there are green plants nearby, and thank goodness! You can keep those cactus gardens, and give me a thick humid day digging in my veggies and flowers, hands down.
I'm working leather with Scott Hofert this summer. He turns out to have a couple of very interesting tricks up his sleeves other than organizing a growing local church, and tanning (working leather) happens to be one of those tricks. Who knew?
Anyhow, that's how changes with me began. A long conversation with an old friend while cutting leather and occasionally my finger. We talked about his church, and changes in our culture. How homosexual populations are on the move in the world, and how the church is wrestling to adapt or not adapt. Though I know it was not his intention, this conversation made me feel more alone than I have in a long time. Going back to the basics; Who am I? What is my purpose? Where will I lead my family? What will God's Family do as these changes in cultural norms evolve faster and faster? Where are movements of faith happening in this culture?
I spent a lot of time studying and talking to my wife. I need any men that read this to know that after the first difficult conversations of unashamed truth with your wife, the road ahead is as smooth as a slow rolling stream. I don't want to remember a time when Katie and I were not on a page together. It is that good. (Footnote: Amidst this conversation with Katie, we laughed about our pet peeves with one another. She always leaves her shoes and water glasses all over the place. She's like that girl from Signs with a water glass; "That one has a spec in it. That one is stale. That one is too warm." Drives me nuts but I crack a smile about it. How I leave all of my coffee mugs in the car and unload them once a week is her touche. Clever girl :P) Another powerful voice into my life, Mrs. Amanda Martin. If you are in our Family, and you are passing that lady by, you are missing out on the goods, let me tell'ya! I have yet to find a woman as grounded and full of the Spirit as Amanda. She takes the edge off of my loneliness from time to time.
God has loaded this week with kind reminders and those smiles that make you feel good all over. You need reminders like that when things are changing so fast. Speaking of change...Wednesday.
As we rolled along with the ebb and flow of Kingdom work together, the four of us, Tracey and Christine have decided that their next adventure will lead them to Chile. It's been a slow process for the two of them to manage this new step in life, but all along the way, I've felt joy and sadness simultaneously. I'm sure I shot them a guilt trip or two, but I promise, only in an attempt to show them my love and adoration for them both.
Wednesday night was a night to remember. There were long conversations all over my house. Good wine and good food. Worship sailed into each room and right out the chimney to our Father. We laid our hands in one-anothers and on their shoulders, and spoke Truth into them both to fill them with courage. We reminded them that we are always tied together by ties that run thicker than blood and deeper than the dark blue ocean. They are making their way to Chicago before they use their one way tickets to Chile where they will teach and worship and find their new life.
That image of Tracey and Christine and that red sombrero has burned into my mind now, and holds so much joy and a hand full of sorrow. When will paths cross again? When will we embrace each other? When will we be able to say our "I love you's" to one another, just because? These are the kinds of things you take for granted, and pay little mind to, until life changes and they can't be simply answered anymore.
The night ran late, but we paid it no mind. Moments like those need to be savored.
I didn't sleep much that Wednesday. I would wake Katie and Elliot up the next morning to go meet this new little being growing inside of my wife, and my eyes were open with wonder and possibility into the late and early hours. We drove to Cornelius, to a little office on exit 28 for our very first 3D sonogram. I would have ran, if it didn't mean dragging my wife and child behind me.
We sat in anticipation while technician maneuvered her jelly coated wand over my wife's plump womb. Elliot thought the images looked "ickie" and still thinks the baby is his momma's belly button. My personal belief is that 3D images look a little more strange than I'd like. I just wanted to know one thing...boy or girl. After about 4 minutes of eternity and nail biting, she froze the picture and said; "You see this equal mark. That's a girl!" The room erupted with shouts and tears and joy. Almost the kind of joy as I did when I saw my son for the first time. Katie cried and smiled and so did I.
Leona Claire Rogers. Leona after my great grandmother who should have been sainted, and Claire after Katie's mentor in college, Claire Natt.
The morning was sweet, and ushered in to us a new kind of life. The walls of our hearts grew bigger that day, as Katie and I made room for this new little life.
On the car ride home, I felt new feelings though. The same ones I feel about Katie and Elliot. This little girl is an extension of me. Her vulnerability makes me vulnerable. As I grow and change in this role of fatherhood, I have gradually become more and more vulnerable. My life is truly not my own. It's His and Katie's and Elliot's and now Leona's. Fear follows these feelings for me; "What if this... or What if that...". Will this little girl love the Lord? Will she grow her beauty inside first, and let God grow it from there? Am I able to protect her? My family? No. God gently whispers a reminder that they are His, and I have to never loose sight of that. His ways for Leona and Katie and Elliot are for their good (Jer. 29:11), and I have to trust him.
I feel different after this weekend. Older even. It's funny how these feelings creep in. Like that daunting sense of future you feel at your High School Graduation, just after you move your tassel across your face and declare that "you are now an adult" (which is a ludicrous thing to think, really, at age 18). I feel a renewed desire to leverage all things toward the Lord, because I watch Him keep promise after promise.
I press forward with my questions and passions and convictions with courage, because I have witnessed God time and time again, and I know what he has up his sleeve for the Rogers Clan is so good that I couldn't imagine it. Come what may, God is at the helm, and at the end of all things I long to be able to say to him that through every change that this life brought, I kept him close in my heart, and loved Him with everything I had.