Thursday, February 21, 2008


So I know that this makes 2 in one day, but I also know that miracles DO happen once in awhile. I just wanted to preview 2 upcoming blog entries:
1. I got a job....I'll tell you all ab it very soon.
2. I am going this weekend to a women's retreat at Lagniappe Pres. in Bay St. Louis, MS. I cannot imagine a better women's retreat than one that Kelli is planning or that I went to last year BUT this will be a close second, or third, I expect. Check out the line-up. And you have to know that one of my fave preachers (top 2, my dad being the other, I'm not just saying that cuz he's my dad) is the pastor of the church, Jean Larroux. Get on and listen to one of his sermons. He's nothing short of amazing. This is a man who knows Jesus and who knows his sin. I leave in the morning and then get back Sunday in time to see Mike, (Rox's hubby) be ORDAINED!

I am Marianne!

Two of my friends have done this on their blogs now...I thought it was my turn. I probably could've guessed it'd be Marianne! description is below. Click on the pic to do it too!! You are Marianne Dashwood of Sense & Sensibility! You are impulsive, romantic, impatient, and perhaps a bit too brutally honest. You enjoy romantic poetry and novels, and play the pianoforte beautifully. To boot, your singing voice is captivating. You feel deeply, and love passionately.

Friday, February 15, 2008

My Favorite News

This is the letter that my dad sent out to Grace Church-our church in CO. This is bittersweet--I am so hearbroken for my family but of course, selfishly, I am excited for me.

Dear Grace Church Family,

This is the email few want to write and even fewer want to read. As I prepare to say what is on my heart, Paul's words to the church in Philippi ring in my ears, "I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (1:3-6)." There are no words to describe my love for Grace Church. She has caused me to be infuriated at times but has changed, blessed, stretched, and encouraged me over the last four and a half years. I am a different person because of you and that impact will last into glory. With that firmly in mind, please proceed.

One writer likens God's pursuit of His children to a hound's pursuit of a rabbit. It is never fun being the rabbit, but as Christians, we know that His pursuit always ends in the arms of the Father. Over the last few months, I have been running from a call I feared would end in my departure from Grace. I feared that it would because for some fifteen years, I have been compelled by a vision of a church being started in downtown Memphis, TN. Memphis, having just earned the title of the number one violent crime city in this country, has lived in the shadow of deep racism and an ever growing disparity between the “haves” and the “have nots.” It is the city that hosted the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr, the garbage workers strike, race riots, and more. I have heard stories from those in my parent's generation of white people locking arms to keep "blacks" out of "their" churches during the days of integration in the late sixties and early seventies. Whereas laws and some perspectives have changed, segregation and racism still exist-- even, and to some degree especially--in the church. The accepted way to do church is for African American and white people to go to their respective churches. I have always felt the great need for this to change. Paul tells us that the gospel is the very tool for that change. He reminds a racially and ethnically diverse people, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26-28).”

So how could a vision to plant a church in Downtown Memphis be compelling from the vantage point of Fort Collins, CO--Money Magazine's number one city in the country to live? The story of Nehemiah may provide some insight. He received word that Jerusalem, the great city which he loved, was in shambles. It so impacted him that King Susa, the king he served, recognized his sullenness and asked, "What is it you want?" After praying and being led by the Holy Spirit he responded, "If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it." (Nehemiah 2:4-5) That communicates my sentiment in so many ways.

I am at an age, or stage in life, that I am asking the larger questions, like, “How has God gifted me and where would those gifts be best utilized in His kingdom work?” After a lot of soul searching and prayer, I think my strongest gifts are in creating a bold vision for a place and people trusting God to bring about His work through gospel preaching and living relationally authentic before and with those people. That is pretty much who and what God has made me to be. Though the work here is far from finished, it has been strongly begun and is moving forward in this direction of gospel ministry and culture. The gospel vision is clear, you guys are firmly committed to it, and, I am convinced, will never compromise it.

In the midst of asking these questions, and possessing the longstanding pull to downtown Memphis, a church in that city approached me about the possibility of planting a church there. I told them about my compelling vision for a racially diverse church and what would be needed to plant such a church. At first they were not on board with this vision, but eventually came around. In the midst of this I struggled with the timing, our love for Grace and the uniquely strong relationships we have built and will always cherish. At the end of the day, however, this vision for Memphis, the assessment of my gifts, the burden of our aging parents, and the needs of our family have come together to convince me to take this call.

So what about Grace Church? Please know that I have thought, prayed, and sought counsel long and hard about you all. The future health of Grace and the strength of Grace moving forward have been first and foremost on my mind and heart. The first comfort I have in my departure, however, is the clear calling and giftedness of Scott Lowe. I met with Scott in early November to tell him of the possibility and asked him if he and Amy were committed to staying at Grace long term. After consulting with Amy, he affirmed that they feel called, and are settled and committed to the vision, mission, and people of Grace. In his words, “We feel called here and do not want to leave!” Since that time he has affirmed this call and even feels that his call has grown stronger. Another comfort is the surplus of leadership that exists at Grace. In our denomination, the Presbyterian Church of America, the leadership of the church lies in the hands of the elders. Whereas we do not have elders trained and ordained as of yet, Scott and I were ready to begin the training process this past January. We postponed the training due to me processing through this new call. Thus, we may very well begin this process soon and see elders in place before my departure. The final comfort that I will mention is the backing of our local presbytery. I spoke with the chairman of the committee that has oversight of our church plant and he affirmed his willingness to back Grace in any way possible. He and the committee will be available to advise and for counsel with our leaders and congregation along the way toward finding the right man to serve as pastor of Grace.

I also want to communicate that another big concern in our decision was the uncompromised desire to see Restoration Now and RUF move forward. I do not want to compromise their support or viability in any way. These two ministries are vital to the vision, mission and life of Grace Church. Whereas there is no way to completely control the affect on them, my hope and plea is that we rally around the Bakers, the students, and the Roloffs in this transition. Both of these ministries are in great hands with Ryan Baker and Josh Roloff, but they will need our support during this time!

So what is the process of moving forward? I will not be leaving until this summer which gives me a good amount of time to work with our leaders, Scott and presbytery to formulate a solid plan. We will be answering questions like, is it wise to train and install elders before Richard’s departure? What are the gifts and role of the pastor coming in relation to the present needs of Grace? What is Scott’s role in this? Etc. As these questions are answered, we will waste no time in moving forward.

I know, by the reaction of the few I have told, that this will hit many completely by surprise. I fully understand that this will be a potentially hurtful announcement that may cause much fear. Please know that this is about God’s call on my life, my family’s life, and nothing else. We love Grace Church more than you can possibly know. It has been a gruelingly painful process to discern this call over the last couple of months. We cannot imagine life without the relationships we have witnessed God build here and are having to die a real death to even make a decision to leave. I am confident, however, that the gospel will continue through you for years to come!

I also know that some of you may want time to process this with me. The reason I sent an email, which seems so impersonal, is that I might give you all a time to process and then talk. I will be available at the church tomorrow (Saturday) at 2 p.m to answer any questions that you may have. I will also stay around after worship on Sunday for the same reason. Please be in prayer for all involved and impacted by this decision. As I pray for you, my hope is that you will pray for me, my family, and a future church in downtown Memphis. May we all unite around the desire to see the gospel go out to many in varying places!

Much love and grace, Richard

Monday, February 11, 2008

Finally, apprehensively, fingers crossed-ly

We are on the brink of many changes here in the Hale treehouse. Yes, the apartment we are living in is kin to a glorified treehouse. I love it. Adventure #116 for me and Jed :)

I am (finally, apprehensively, fingers crossed-ly) on the verge of a job I'd love which I will not talk about until it is finalized. We are (finally, apprehensively, fingers crossed-ly) going to begin our house hunt. It will be like Christmas unpacking our boxes. I have forgotten what my things look like. Does everyone spend time on fun home design blogs like Design Sponge and stores like 2modern when getting ready to look for a house even though you know you can't afford anything to put in it yet?

The problem is, the more life moves on, the more crap in my heart I am having to deal with. I sometimes feel like the #2 filled toilet won't stop overflowing and the more I plunge it, the more it keeps coming. This week, amongst other things, I am learning to keep my mouth shut. Yesterday I attempted this. Yes, I know many of you are thinking, "Wow! Really? You really didn't say anything when you knew you shouldn't have?" Well, the answer is that I did not actually say anything but it was the hardest thing I've done in a long time. I told a friend today that all I could think afterwards was, "Those poor people didn't get to hear MY opinion." Yes, there is something overtly and obviously evil about me. And I am being witty but I am very serious about that. I have issues controlling my tongue and realizing that people quite possibly do not want to hear everything that I have to say and that my tongue is a double-edged sword with jellyfish stingers attached and is often unbearingly painful for people to be around. I used to educate myself in the school of If-you-think-it-you-might-as-well-say-it-because-it's-just-as-wrong-to-think-it but some wise people (e.g. my husband who puts up with me and my mom who has always put up with me) have lately advised that maybe I should transfer to the school of If-I-keep-my-murderous-comments-to-myself,-I-only-have-my-indignant-heart-to-deal-with-and-not-the-blood-and-guts-of-my-murdered-friends-to-put-back-together-maybe-things-will-be-less-time-consuming-and-my-friends-will-be-able-to-love-me-more-easily-and-not-feel-scorched-by-the-sun-of-my-tongue school. Oh, I know what you are thinking, "That thought is not common sense, Whit, that's bloody brilliant wisdom on your advisor's parts. I mean, I can see the thought process of thinking that murdering people would help build relationships and not tear them apart". Thanks for making me feel better. I knew I liked all you poor people who read my blog.

But anyways, maybe the next blog will be more uplifting.

Friday, February 8, 2008

10 things I did this week:

1. Shopped for a day w/my friend Rox, who, by the way, is pregno!

2. Bought Palmer's Cocoa Butter for my "beauty flaws."

3. Met with an amazing grant writer, who helped me out big time!

4. Had birthday dinner for my grandmother, Minnie, in our itty bitty apartment.

5. Complained because Nikki began her heat cycle.

6. Watched a funnel cloud pass over our house (and got a sweet pic too). This was a first. Amazing. I am so thankful that it was not a tornado here!

7. Changed the date for our Burg trip :)

8. Went to the Allie awards (the DeSoto County Golden Globes).

9. Watched a lot of TLC.

10. Cooked soup!

Another uneventful week, maybe next week will look better.....

Sunday, February 3, 2008


I know that I haven't posted in awhile. I keep meaning to write and never getting around to it. We are still adjusting to the Memphis area and to be honest, have so much going on, it is hard to get around to writing about it. It's exhausting to write an all out intense melodrama--which is what I live through on a daily basis--so maybe I'll start telling at least the logistics of our day to day, I promise to write in the next few days. For now, jed and I are starting a diet tomorrow to get rid of some extra parasitic blubber we've been keeping around for fun. And, honestly, so I can wear a bathing suit in the summer and fit back into all of my pants.
SO-pray for us and check out which I am obsessed with AND tell me what you're giving up for lent.