Sometimes when I would be getting ready to leave the house, my dad would say to me, “Remember who you are and Whose you are.” And of course as a teenager I would roll my eyes and run out the door. But often it would stick with me long after I left, and I’d think about what he said.
All day yesterday I felt his absence in body as I thought about and rejoiced with all my friends and family who came to see and/or who stayed home and watched the service. But wow, I felt his presence. As a friend of mine standing next to me and I were talking about how we wished our dads were there, we realized that they really were there. Through the service, I felt like I was watching it all happen – it was surreal, to be there but to also see it happen from above. In some strange way I think it was a way of experiencing my dad’s view of things. And while I miss him so very much, I feel his presence and his support and encouragement and pride, and it fills me with great joy.
Last night the Bishop said to me, to “take thou authority as a deacon to proclaim the Word of God and to lead God’s people to serve in the world.”
So quite literally, I am leading God’s people to serve in the world this morning as I leave the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina to take my youth on a mission trip to Pensacola, FL. And I know I’ll feel my dad’s presence there, too, as he grew up there and we have family there and his spirit is all around. And as we go, I’ll remember who I am and whose I am – a Deacon in Full Connection, a beloved child of God, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim hope, love, joy, and peace to all people in the name of Jesus.
In my “congratulations” letter for passing the Board of Ordained Ministry, it stated that I was to ask two clergy in full connection to stand with me as the Bishop lay hands on me.
I cried for an hour.
How in the world was I expected to narrow down all the clergy who have walked alongside me these past 32 years to two? (But as usual, the Spirit led the way in that endeavor.)
And then came the flood of stories of all that we had gone through together; the tears continued as I thought of how many times I wanted to quit the process or not go forward, and how various clergy prayed over me and talked me into staying.
So while I’m thankful for allllll the clergy who have inspired me and shepherded me through the process, these are the two who stood by me last night at my ordination service.
Kathleen Kilbourne – I’ve already written a little about Kathleen, so I won’t say much more except that she is such an amzing, extraordinary woman who I’m proud to call a mentor and friend. She helped make it possible for me to finish the required BGTS classes through the Pfeiffer/Wesley partnership. She opened her home for me and my classmates when we needed a place to stay. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “you’re going to do this, and you will do it well.” I love her direct way of speaking truth and wisdom, encouragement and support, and the way she helps shepherd so many people through one of the most intimidating parts of seeking to fulfill their call.
David Lawrence – David’s daughter, Anna, was my Duke Intern at Fairfield UMC in High Point. It’s a long, beautiful story, but basically I ended up moving to Morganton to work with David. When I started last July, I said to him that I may not go forward in the process just yet, that I
needed wanted time to grieve and to settle in. He pretty much said, “no, you’re going forward.” haha. And I love him for that – and so much more. He pushed me and encouraged me as I wrote my Full Connection papers and gave me space to read and write and live into my ministry at Oak Hill. As I thought of people to stand next to me it made perfect sense that he would be one of them, because I probably wouldn’t have gone forward this year if it weren’t for him.
So thank you, David and Kathleen, for being such wonderful colleagues in ministry to work with, for being my mentors and guides through the final stages of this process, for your friendship and encouragement, and for sending me on my way as I leave today to embark on an amazing adventure of living more fully into my call.
And Happy Father’s Day, dad. Thank you for being with me in Spirit and for always encouraging me through this ordination process. I imagine that you were live-streaming the service from Heaven as you ate Blue Bell ice cream with Papa and Mo. Thanks for being there. ❤