These were the words my sweet boy whispered today as I (Kelly) was teaching him to swim. Today was the second time in his life that he has swam independently. He was nervous, he was excited, he was unaware of his potential, and he was needy. This a great picture of how I have been feeling lately… especially today. As we are heading down new roads and learning many new things I find myself saying with great passion…“I need You.” I don’t say this the way I used to or with typical “church speak.” I REALLY need Him. I had to smile as I looked at Elliott when he said those words. They were so honest and tender. They were rich to receive as he was expressing his total dependence on me. I loved being able to offer care and loving assurance that I was near. I smiled also because it was a vivid picture of my Father’s heart for me. He takes great delight when my heart whispers….I need You. He never intended for me to “figure things out” on my own or teach myself how to swim in the deep-end. He does invite me to trust and then reassures me that He is near. I don’t always sense His presence. I don’t always hear his still small voice. But, today, I have sensed His tending. I have felt His nearness. In my tears for our family and other families I remember that being needy beckons me to Him and that is the best place for my heart to be.
On a side note, my freshly organized garage is now loaded with
I hate clutter. I hate those boxes.....and they are just a few. I hate that they are full of stuff and somehow they make me feel a sense of emptiness. I am sad for what those boxes stand for. Today, I have grieved my husband packing up many years of ministry into brown moving boxes. It just feels sad. It feels unfamiliar. It too makes me say, “I need You.”
Being needy is something I am becoming very familiar with. As soon as this issue is resolved I am sure I will receive another invitation. I am not dreading it…I simply don‘t have the energy to expend there. Today, I am just resting that He is with me and He is more than enough. Tomorrow will have enough troubles of its own. Today I am thankful we serve a God that smiles with delight when we speak out our need and desire for Him. It helps my tired brain remember that yes, He is my God, but He is also my Daddy.
Not too much to say (at least not yet)... no long list of credentials... just a story that's worth sharing. I'm Adam Vaughan. My wife, Kelly, will also be sharing. We have 6 children. Our two sons, Lincoln and Tucker, have gone to be with the Lord. The remaining four with us are Emmiline, Eloise, Elliott and Charli. Charli is a triplet. Her brothers Lincoln and Tucker are identical twins. They're dancing with Jesus right now, and they're not sad about it at all!
Monday, May 30, 2011
Well, tomorrow’s the last day that I’ll be at the office. I doubt I’ll be there long. I’ll try to quickly stuff my car full one more time. Transport a giant Plinko board back to Two Rivers. Turn in my keys. Turn in my laptop. Vow to never give the secret handshake again. I might climb up the ladder in Kristen’s office. I’ve never actually seen where that goes.
Anyways…the more I think about tomorrow and what it symbolizes the more sad it makes me. This is really real. It’s over. A sense of belonging and team… well, that’s gone. How’d I get here? What’s going to go through my mind as I look around my office for the last time? Will I break down into tears as I see the pictures of students’ faces mounted on my walls? Not sure what to expect, but not looking forward to it.
It seems people who study social and mental development like to talk about “markers” and “milestones.” Well, this will definitely go down as a significant marker in my life. I never thought I’d be fired. How will this affect not only future jobs but even applying for future jobs?
As I walk out of the church for the last time I think I might let the door hit me in the behind (pronounced “bee – hine”) just for closure. Nothing feels like Fellowship is kicking me out on my bottom, but it somehow feels like the right thing to do. I know that’s probably a little awkward, but I’m embracing my awkwardness these days.
What in the world does the Lord have in store for me? In my mind I compartmentalize things into these categories of consciousness. I think tomorrow when I walk out of the church the next season of my life will have officially begun. Not sure what that season has in store. Hopeful, but afraid of more disappointment. The canvas seems so empty and blank. I’m not used to that. There’s a sense of excitement, but it’s also very scary.
On a positive note I am really looking forward to wearing my “Awkward” t-shirt again tomorrow. I think I’m going to get a lot of good use out of that thing. Speaking of awkward, I’m trying something very different and new. You know how people offer words of praise or encouragement to you? Well, I’m prone to do one of the following things: 1) I deflect the statement by – giving all the credit to Christ, pointing the words of affirmation back on them (“you’re always so kind to say these things. God’s given you such a gift.”), attempting to say something funny to distract them for the words of love or 2) downplay their words of encouragement (“Oh, I’m really not as _____ as you think. Trust me. If you knew me, you wouldn’t be impressed.) Either option I’m really deflating people by robbing them of the gift of speaking love. It’s really so awkward to receive love words at times. I don’t know what to say or do… even when I have received these words in a typed message. However, I’m trying to simply accept them now. I’m not saying I’m worthy of praise by any means. I think I’m just owning that I’m robbing someone of a blessing when I don’t accept their offering of love. How do you do with this? Do you accept the love offerings made to you through other peoples’ encouragement? It may be awkward, but embrace these offerings… it will bless both parties.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
This morning stunk. Deep sadness and frustration marked the morning. Clearly, our entire family was processing / feeling the major changes much more drastically on a Sunday morning. I was struggling. The kids were obviously struggling. Even little Charli communicated frustration with life.
Kel and I have felt that Emmiline and Eloise are innocent victims in this whole loss of a job situation. They lose face time with their friends too. A sweet friend agreed to take them to an hour of Sunday School throughout the summer just to minimize the blow they’re experiencing and allow them to continue something they really enjoy.
This idea made much sense in my head. The two older girls would enjoy what is familiar. Kelly and I would look for a place to worship and connect… not knowing how long that “connect” piece might last makes it much more difficult to purse. Anyways, this morning wasn’t an option for us to go to a church because our sweet niece is still in the hospital. We wouldn’t have had enough time before the girls got back, because Kel wanted to take Emmiline and Eloise with her to the hospital as soon as possible.
As the girls got ready for church, my frustration and sadness increased. Not only did I not have a church, but my family was going to be separated from each other. Later I found out (I had forgotten because my brain doesn’t work)… that they didn’t even have Sunday School for my girls today. I forgot that it’s a Memorial Day weekend.
Last Sunday was the first Sunday since my termination had been made public. There was a piece of that Sunday that I could enjoy… the freedom from the frantic pre-church prep, the freedom from the mental check-lists of Sunday morning responsibilities, unrushed time together as a family to worship and talk about a scripture passage..., but we’ll just say I only enjoyed that for one Sunday. Today stunk. I miss church.
I still love Fellowship, but when I say that I miss “church,” well, I mean that I miss community, teaching and worship in the context of other believers… You know those Sundays when you’ve struggled to stay awake during the sermon? I can admit to those Sundays. It’s strange to admit because Fellowship has some of the strongest teaching anywhere. Well, the thought goes through your head that it would be nice to be sleeping… well, let me just tell you that it stinks not having a church home. It stinks not getting to go to church where you have some degree of connection. It just stinks.
Not sure where we fit now. Not sure where we’ll be a few months from now. Not really enjoying the unknown.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
I just had “church” with my 3 year old son. It wasn’t anything fancy but it was rich to me. I have had a “heavy” day. God and I have had many conversations today. Mostly, I have just been asking Him questions and pouring out my heart. I don’t like that I don’t get immediate “feel good” responses from the Lord. It is quite clear that God is not a god of “feel good religion.” Sometimes I wish He was. Sometimes I just want to feel better. Most of the time I just don’t want to feel so sad or so afraid. I think I have shared before…..I am a woman that is greatly tormented by her thoughts. I feel like I can really relate to Martin Luther and how at the end of his life he literally went mad by what I would consider “over processing.” I talk to God a lot more than I used to. Sometimes I really feel like I hear Him. Often I struggle with silence.
I am 34 and still very lost in regards to living out communion with God. I am ashamed sometimes that I haven’t figured more out. You would think a pastor’s wife who’s been a full-time staffer herself would have it “figured out.” I don’t. In my flesh….I will most likely always desire sin’s pleasures over the painstaking process of dying to self. I am very sad about this, and I am begging God for more of Himself. Keep in mind that I would still like this on my terms. You know, maybe through some good worship or an amazing sermon, perhaps a new spiritual gift. The pattern I am seeing in my life is that God is revealing more of Himself to me, but it is through some of my dreams being shattered. Yes, I am desperate for more of God, but I am afraid of how He might choose to reveal Himself to my broken heart. I am well aware that I do not need to fear His perfect love….yet I stand and cling to fear. I am afraid. I am afraid of so many things. I am sharing those things with God and others, and slowly He is opening my hands and revealing beauty that is… Christ in me…the HOPE of GLORY.
I have a lot to learn. I desire more. I am seeking. I am lost. I feel desperate, and yet I wait. Watching and waiting for more of the Master.
Thankful for the sweet and simple words I sang with Buddy tonight….”Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong….I am weak…but HE IS STRONG!”
Friday, May 27, 2011
Well, I wouldn’t be honest with myself if I didn’t begin this entry by talking about how I am so steaming angry right now. As I begin to share the source of this anger, I can feel my blood pressure start to rise. Many of you knew Kelly and I before we had children. It’s a little funny to think about because we always thought that we were “so tired.” It’s embarrassing to think about how dramatic we were about it. Life was good then, but it’s gotten much better. Anyways, you might not know that Kelly and I had a miscarriage during our first pregnancy. Our second pregnancy was plagued with fear. Truly, we were severely crippled with fear. To throw flames into that fire we had a nightmarish experience during that pregnancy where a doctor even told us that we had lost the baby. God had other plans, and the baby lived. That baby is our 9 year old, Emmiline. Well, back to the main point, if you weren’t around me when Emmiline was born, think of Moses when his face was radiating so much that it scared everyone. In my memory my face was glowing in the same way…only for different reasons. I was so proud, arrogant, obnoxious and over-protective when Emmiline was born… I can remember getting legitimately angry with my mother-in-law (definitely one of the sweetest people ever to walk the earth). I was so angry because she held Emmiline too long without offering her back to me. Yes, I’m being completely serious. The anger was significant enough that I actually said something to her about it.
You might not believe it, but I actually matured a little bit over the years. A self-proclaimed, “I’ve matured” statement doesn’t seem to carry much weight. It’s a little like, “I’m so much more humble now.” Well, you can believe me if you want to (if not, watch out for my anger).
Somewhere the overprotective dad mentality decreased. I have not been plagued by fear. The birth of freedom… well, it has been the birth of life for me. I mean that in terms of “life to the full.”
I’m steaming because that old overprotective dad came back out in me tonight. Someone bullied my son. I am not going to say when or where it happened. We’ll just say that what happened inside of me was not pretty when I heard about it. Obviously, I wasn’t present because they wouldn’t let me write this from prison. Knowing that my emotions are much more raw than normal… they’re in much greater proportions right now… they’re basically about to burst out of my skin at times at the smallest of things. However, as I process I realize that I can’t use that as the only excuse.
I love my kids so much. I’ve noticed that when someone messes with my boy (Elliott)… we’ll just say that a raging fire inside of me erupts, and it’s a consuming fire. Obviously, I get upset when my girls are treated unfairly too. It’s just different with my boy. Something within feels like I respond even more so with Elliott because I so miss my two sons, Lincoln and Tucker. I never had the chance to play with or protect my twin boys. It’s like Elliott represents all three of them. I’ve only got one boy with me so you better treat him as royalty, or the wrath of Adam will tear your face off. Trust me… I know this isn’t healthy. It’s really just a reminder that I’m still constantly grieving my other two sons. Even as I type this, my eyes well up with tears. Grieving still…
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Adam and I have had many discussions about this topic over the past few weeks. I feel like we are infants in so many areas with so much to learn most of which seems painful. Lamenting is one of those words I think we hear about in scripture but choose to run from. Honestly, lamenting is something I would like to run from. There are large parts of me that hates lament. Running from Lament is no longer an option for my heart or my family. Most of you know our stories. Many of you have put on your boots and climbed in the messy waters with us. And, Some of you have even breathed for us when we no longer had breath of our own. God has shown my heart that Lament is a part of walking out life in a broken world. Today I feel much like the weather outside….gray with hints of sunshine. I find myself wondering how does a woman lament in a way that brings God the most glory? Today, I am not really grieving the loss of Adam’s job. As I have shared with many of you we have been through harder things than this. Today my heart is aching for friends and family members with sick children…waiting for answers…struggling to hope and crying out for mercy. Jobs come and go but our family is different. God has also been reminding me that everything we have has been entrusted to us for a “season.” I hate this just as much as I hate lament. I feel very emotional about this. This is so easy to talk about in theory and so hard to really live out. I don’t really care about my “stuff.” Don’t get me wrong, I like my stuff but it’s not a part of my heart. My family….that is a whole different story. I LOVE MY FAMILY….truth be told, it’s probably an idol. Entrusted…..wow!!! They aren’t mine. The Lord is sharing them with me . They are His. Today I have precious people in my life that are physically suffering from unknown causes. God is allowing us to wait and trust. I do trust in the Lord but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel!
I have really, really, really been wrestling with what a steadfast woman looks like. I so desire to be this woman not for any other reason than I long to be free and faithful. Most of my life I have viewed steadfastness as a robotic, emotionless response to God during hard times. Today I am sensing that steadfastness means that I am clinging to the One who promises and constantly reminding myself He is faithful. I still get angry. I still get worn out. I still ask. I still lament . God has not asked me to be a robot but He has asked me to offer Him all of me and trust. This will no doubt be a life-long process.
So, today, as I celebrate the rich blessings God has brought into my world I also take many long pauses to lament the brokenness too. So many people with stories of hurt. How do I enter in? How can I be an instrument of hope? God is equipping this slow student to lament, share in sorrows and rejoice in blessings for often they are one in the same.
Desiring steadfastness in times of joy and lament for life is a CONTINUAL cycle of both.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Today I searched at least 8 or 9 websites that are designed to help pastors find employment. Of those 8 or 9 websites that seemed to have endless lists of opportunities… well, I saw one that looked like it might have some good potential. One. Really? Obviously, the problem is not the churches or the positions available. The problem is me. What is wrong with me? (other than the obvious) There’s something insane about that. I’ll continue to look. My OCD brain will continue to process. Sometimes I can’t turn it off. Other times it’s like I can’t get it to work at all.
Sometimes I’ve wondered whose side my brain is on…seems like it’s working against me a lot of times. Seems it has a way of tormenting me. “Haunted” is the best word I could come up with. I’ve spent most of my life living something I call, “Guilt Management.” You’d think I’m weirder than you already do if you knew the miniscule things I have guilted myself over. Somehow in my messed up head I thought it was godly to cling to guilt. What a great lie from the enemy! That is not from the Lord at all.
Anyways, back to “haunted…” You know how a thought or image often stays in your mind. No matter what you do… it’s still there. You can try to get it out, but good luck with that… it’s not gonna happen. Well, my mind has been haunted lately…much, much more than normal. Only this time the “haunting” is very different. I couldn’t come up with a word to communicate being “haunted” by positive thoughts. The thoughts that have taken deep roots in my mind and heart are words I have received from friends lately. I’m on the good side of experiencing the power in loving life words. I’ve experienced this before, but I don’t think I’ve ever experienced it near this extent.
I think I’ve said it before and meant it to some degree, but I can mean it fully now… losing my job was really worth it because of the love and support I have received. That might sound crazy to you, and I might change my mind about that statement if I lose my health insurance and have no employment options. However, for the moment, I am simply enjoying that so many people actually “got me.” It’s an amazing thing for someone to “get you…” you know, understand how and why you are the way you are. Not only that, but they enjoy and love you. I think I’d like to do something different and invite you to join me. Let’s speak these loving life words before something life-altering happens. Let’s be willing to look awkward for the sake of loving well.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Old vs. New
Well, I began my day wearing the “Awkward” shirt. No, please don’t post a snide remark about how much of my clothing is awkward. I’m liable to either go postal on you or break into an uncontrollable sob. I wore the shirt from the picture on this page. It simply says, “Awkward.” I wore it to the church this morning. I’ve tried to figure out why I wore it. 1) I felt awkward. 2) It’s really funny, and I want people to be able to laugh a little. 3) I think it might invite people in to talking a little more… maybe. Anyways, it got a good laugh from at least one person. I’m planning on wearing it a lot. I might even intentionally wear it two times in a row when I know I’m going to see the same people. I know… a cardinal sin in our culture.
I began the process of packing up my office. Seriously, why do I have so many books? I haven’t read a lot of them. They’re like trophies in the way that they falsely communicate that I am “learned.” Anyways, hoping McKay’s will buy a few of them. My pride will cause me to cling to some that I have no intention of reading… I just want to make sure I still have enough on the shelves to appear like I read.
Got back from the office and moved into full gear as we got the family ready to go to Dollywood. Dollywood was amazing. Such sweet time with my kids. Hearing Elliott cackle with delight brings me such joy. We got to be with sweet friends. It was just easy and awesome. The old me probably would have stopped right there. The new, messier me needs to fill in a few of the gaps. When I got home from the office, I was incredibly crotchety. I don’t even completely know why. As I think back to my middle school Language Arts classes, my mind dissects the word, “crotchety” into its root word. No need to type it. We’ll just say that it isn’t pretty. That was me.
In the midst of my crotchetiness I was trying to feed Charli her baby cereal. Of course, I’m getting frustrated with her (make sure you understand that she is the sweetest baby in the world, she lived in the NICU for 139 days, she has lost two brothers… and again she is the sweetest baby in the world), and I’m getting ticked that she is so difficult to feed. Simultaneously, Elliott decides that he wants to “help” me with a few things. As he “helps,” he continues to knock things off the refrigerator, knock over his drink, etc. He insisted on “helping” to fix the messes he was making. Of course, this made matters worse. I grabbed his sippy cup and tossed it across the room. Let me make sure I communicate this clearly. It was not an overhand throw like I practiced in my dodgeball days. It was more like I aggressively slid it across the floor, but the cup happened to get some air. Anyways, I looked up at Elliott after having “tossed” his cup. His eyes were unlike I had ever seen them. He was not afraid. His eyes communicated a significant amount of confusion, but there seemed to be some pity in the way he looked at me. It was like he was thinking, “What in the world is wrong with my dad?” I apologized, but I think I was grateful that I didn’t have to answer the question, “What’s wrong with you?”
Seems I have so many people that care for me. I’m deeply blessed. I’m constantly asked the question, “Are you okay?” I don’t even know what that means. Does it mean, “Do you have enough money for groceries and bills?” Does it mean, “Are you stable?” Does it mean, “Do I need to worry about you?” Not sure what it means. I think I’m going to avoid answering that question directly.
All I do know is that beneath the surface there’s a lot going on. If you scratch the surface, you’re likely to get a gusher. That’s a metaphor if you missed it. If I bump my toe, I’m likely to respond in disproportionate anger. If I get offended, I’m likely to go off the handle as they say.
I wonder if you ever feel this way? I wonder why I have avoided sharing these types of things as much in the past. I wonder if you share your struggles. Don’t get me wrong… I’m still selective in what I share. I’ve got a long way to go, but I want to invite you to join me in greater authenticity. I desperately need it.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
A blog?!? Really? I know. I hate blogs. Consider this something different. This is just how we (Kelly and I) want to share our story and invite you into it. Here is your warning though… it won’t be neat and tidy. It’ll be real and messy. If Kelly and I spent most of the day fighting, I’ll share that. If I’m struggling with being bitter, I’ll let you know. If I have nothing to say, I’ll say that (and nothing more). Maybe you’ve heard the expression, “You can’t polish a turd.” Well, we’ll just say that I’m not going to polish “this.” Sorry if the language offends.
Right now I’m sitting in the middle of awkward-land. I just recently lost my job as a pastor. This is awkward for countless reasons. When I was being let go, the very gracious pastors who oversee me spent much time praising my character, calling, gifts and contributions… they just didn’t see me as a good fit for where they’d like to see the ministry to go. Again, although they were and are very gracious, I sit with the feeling of inadequacy. There’s something that’s not adequate or sufficient within me to take it where they want it. I thought this was the one thing that I somewhat knew how to do.
Not only have I lost my job… well, I feel like I’ve lost my community. I know some relationships will continue, but many will slowly die. By no means did the church ask me not to return, but it just doesn’t seem to feel like home any more.
When I have tried to summarize “me” into one word, I usually gravitate to the word, “contradiction.” I know… not a good word for pastor, huh? Well, that’s me. I choose “contradiction” because I usually feel like I’m in the middle of a tug-of-war match between completely contradictory feelings and emotions. For example, since my termination, I bounce from peaceful and hopeful to deeply saddened and frustrated. I bounce from feeling free and excited to feeling depressed, deflated and fearful. How do I feel right now? Not a safe question to ask me because my answer might change in 5 minutes. I’m not bi-polar, but I have been dropping to lows much more quickly than normal… and it seems to take a lot longer to rebound too!
I do know I’m wanting to cling to hope. I do know that God is good. God is with me. God is all-powerful. However, I also know that those things do not guarantee that I will have an amazing job with great medical insurance in a month. Those promises don’t mean that greater levels of brokenness aren’t right around the corner. They simply mean that He is who He says He is. I should rest in that. It’s just really difficult to do.