Carrie and I are pleased to announce that we are (okay, she is) fourteen weeks pregnant. If all goes well, we will welcome our firstborn child into this world in July. Like most expectant parents, I imagine, we are apprehensive as we have loved our freedom and our life together, but we are also excited for the experiences ahead. We have been aunt Carrie and uncle Scott for several years, now, and we have been foster parents to an amazing young lady, and now we endeavor upon a new adventure, together.
In one episode of the sitcom Modern Family we discover Phil & Claire Dunphy in the middle of a big disagreement. Throughout the episode Phil is trying to figure out what he did wrong to make her angry. As he bumbles through the episode we find that Phil has made all kinds of missteps…but none of them are the offense for which he is paying dearly. Then we make the discovery that Phil came the day before after a lunch with an ex-girlfriend. His ex suggested the wedge salad and he tried it. He couldn’t get over the wedge salad. He had gone on-and-on with Claire about how much he LOVES wedge salads and can’t believe that he’d never had one before.
Claire is angry not over any of the obvious mistakes Phil has made. Through a series of flashbacks we see that Claire had recommended wedge salads time-and-time again. Claire is angry because he never listens to her and doesn’t seem to trust her suggestions. My wife and I often refer to the Modern Family wedge salad when we act in the same way.
Brene Brown’s book, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, is a wedge salad. My wife talked incessantly about this book and applied Brown’s teachings to everything. Perhaps out of stubbornness– maybe out of laziness– I ignored her glowing affirmations until I finally picked up the book last week. It is remarkable. She weaves together government, politics, personal struggles and the growing sense of personal loneliness and civic divisions. She offers us a way to reconceptualize our place in our family, social group, culture, religion, and nation. It is an empowering book that I hope all of my congregation, family and friends will consider.
This isn’t exactly a traditional “Christmas letter,” but with such a long silence on our family blog I thought it time to share an update and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
This has been a tumultuous year for the Carnes family. We have moved to a new city and both have new jobs. We sold our beloved home and left our former churches in the capable hands of other United Methodist pastors. Whew. Hard…but also exciting!
We were fortunate that in a difficult economy our home sold quickly (despite the water main breaking right in front of the house) and we still consider ourselves incredibly lucky to have had some really great neighbors in that neighborhood!
I did a lot of the packing, of course, but the actual move and the initial unpacking and setting up of our new home was on Carrie. You can see that she had her work cut out for her when the movers left that day. I was off in Chicago working on my final summer residency for my Doctor of Ministry.
My doctor of ministry is in preaching so my preaching each Sunday is part of my education and my education is affecting my preaching in very real ways. I’m loving it! When I got back from school I was in my first Sunday in my new congregation, Collinsville First United Methodist Church. Carrie had already started the previous Sunday in her congregation at “Journey” a church start of Belleville Union UMC. Carrie is appointed by the bishop to be the associate at Belleville Union, but she seldom works in Belleville. Her primary work is in Freeburg, IL at Journey.
The Collinsville Church provides a parsonage in which we live. We appreciate their hospitality and we are constantly working to make it ‘our own’ and when that involves painting…we thank the trustees for being so accommodating! 🙂
One way that the church showed hospitality and generosity, both, was partnering with us to put in a fence for our dogs. As you can see from the picture of Jack, above, the dogs are loving it. While we miss our former communities, friends, and congregations, we have found new places of love and support. Also, being in the Saint Louis area allows us to be near to Carrie’s family. We’ve been able to participate in family events and be with our nephew.
It was also fun to be near the total eclipse and we were fortunate to be able to go down to the lake and go out in the boat for the eclipse with other family and friends. One of the highlights for Carrie was our purchase of half a hog. Not only did we get the traditional cuts of meat, but she got some of the organs and she is excited to experiment with the hog head. I have to say…I don’t know.
Lastly, we both had the opportunity to go to a preaching event at Garrett-Evangelical in Evanston in November. We enjoyed an evening in Chicago before it began and immensely enjoyed it. I think that is just about all that is fit for print. We are preparing for the holidays and look forward to our time with both sides of the family over the next few weeks!
Three years ago we bought a home in Peoria and began new ministries: Carrie in Peoria and Scott in Hudson. We were welcomed into those congregations and we have loved them, both. It is with deeply conflicted emotions, therefore, that we share some news with our congregations, communities, family, and friends.
Bishop Frank Beard has prayerfully discerned that we will both be reappointed to new churches beginning July 1, 2017. We will move to Collinsville, Illinois where Scott will serve as the pastor at First United Methodist Church and Carrie will be leading The Journey, a new church start of Belleville Union United Methodist Church. She will be the associate pastor of Union United Methodist Church in Belleville primarily to be the pastor of the Journey in Freeburg.
We will be pleased to be so near to Carrie’s family in Saint Louis and we are fortunate to be a bit closer to Scott’s family in Pittsfield, but we have never been far from family and the drive has always been worth it…to do great ministry with amazing people. Other the past seven years we have been in loving congregations doing vital ministry wherever the bishop has sent us.
Our hearts will break to say goodbye to our congregations in June. We must pack our home and move to a new community and, certainly, we leave things behind: our hearts, prayers, and the fruits of labor (born of us and our current churches). Though, we will also take some things with us: We take the love of our congregations, the lessons learned, and the experiences gained. Most importantly, though, we take cherished memories and Christ-filled hearts
We mourn our losses and treasure our past experiences, but we also look forward to the ministry that lies ahead. We know that wonderful people and experiences await us in Collinsville and Freeburg/Belleville.
Why do United Methodist pastors move?
We realize that lots of questions arise when news of pastoral moves come up. First of all, whether you are in one of our churches or any other United Methodist Church, feel free to sit down with your pastor to learn more about why we do this and the benefits of our system. In the meantime, click here to learn more about where this strange practice comes from and how it works.
We’ve had to do some work on the house, lately. It’s one of those things that snuck up on us. Since we moved in three years ago, we’ve intended to get the front steps tiled to match the porch. Soon after we moved in a pipe leaked into the basement and we had to tear out a wall so the plumbers could properly fix it. That wall has been torn up ever since. Some plaster cracked in the bedroom and we needed to get it repaired. We waited too long and the crack became too big to do a simple repair. We looked around and realized that all these small jobs had turned into a huge job. So we called a handy man and dug deep into the wallet.
Our relationships are like this. Maybe a person gets angry and yells at their spouse, but if we talk about our feelings…process what happened…then that “small crack in the plaster” can easily be fixed. Maybe a person really messes up and breaks trust with a parent or child. They say that they will pick them up or take care of them, but, then, the person forgets or chooses not to. It’s like the basement wall, though: If we get in and repair it correctly…and rebuild trust right away, we can get back to enjoying life and it may not have to cost us so much.
With any relationship issues: ignoring the problem is not a good option. The longer we ignore the problem, the bigger the problem becomes. Sometimes, when we don’t properly talk through our smaller problems the relationship breaks down and soon it is far too expensive to repair.
With our house, I think we caught it in time. We had to use quite a bit of savings, but our house is nearly all fixed up: even better than when we moved in. If you have a relationship that has broken down, don’t wait any longer. Get to work fixing the pain and begin the process of rebuilding trust. I think you will find that it is worth the risk, time and expense!
We are currently planning a Holy Land trip for early 2019 to give people plenty of time to save for this trip. Please check back soon for videos, photos, links to stories, and details about the trip.
It may shock people to learn that Carrie left me…for two weeks. She had her eye on another love…mission and traveling so she went out on mission to the Philippines and is having a great time (though I can’t wait until she gets home)!
She left on March 2, but how crazy is it that we are able to communicate moment-by-moment via texting on our cell phones? That is, however, made difficult by the fourteen hour time difference. There really aren’t all that many hours when we are both awake to talk, sadly.
She is really enjoying this trip. They are staying on the island of Leyte where there is a University. One of the problems that the people of the Philippines face is that few women are able to get an education in agriculture and they need to feed their country, so Carrie is with a team of people who are working to build a women’s dormitory at the University.
A mission team started the dormitory 20 years go, finishing two rooms. In a recent disaster, the roof failed and a mission team was needed to repair it: it re-ignited the dream that began two decades before. Carrie is very excited to be part of the team that is working to take the project further (with local construction crews, too, of course). Carrie has been loving this project and feels passionate about the need.
It’s not just construction, though. Her team also collected books and clothes, shipping them in advance of their trip. The United Methodist Church is finding great success in the Philippines and they have many people who want to be trained as clergy, but there is little education for pastors. They need help educating pastors, so Carrie is also part of a group providing training for licensed local pastors who have not had the benefit of a seminary education. Carrie also surprised me the other day when she suggested that we should plan, in the future, to go to the Philippines to teach. How fun would that be?
It was a long journey to get to the Philippines. Her car was making some noise so I decided that we should keep her car here so I could get it to the mechanic (and so that she wasn’t driving an unreliable vehicle, of course). We both had Ash Wednesday services so we couldn’t go up the night before like many people on the team. We got up early on Thursday morning so I could get her to Chicago O’Hare Airport by 9 o’clock to meet the group. We left the house at 5:30am and I got her there at 8:45am to meet the rest of the group, but, then, I rushed back to Hudson for a 12:30pm meeting at my church. It was a really long day for me, but that was nothing compared to poor Carrie. She traveled continuously for 52 hours straight!!! I can’t imagine how miserable that must have been with flights, drives, and the seemingly endless layovers at airports.
It was a crazy-long journey for her, but I think the trip, so far, has been worth it. Based on the photos she is posting on Facebook the food has been one of the most exciting aspects of the trip for her. Is anyone really surprised? I, on the other hand, am not very excited about the food I am eating while she is gone. I’m going to appreciate her culinary skills all-the-more when she returns!
We received news on Sunday that Scott’s great-aunt Darlene died. She was a vivacious woman. Even at 98 years old she enlivened a room when she entered.
Here is the obituary, published in the Quincy Herald Whig January 2-4:
GOLDEN, Ill. — Darlene P. “Mema” Myers, 98, of Golden, died at 11:50 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, at Golden Good Shepherd Home in Golden. She was born Jan. 8, 1918, in Bowen, to Clarence Edmund and Bessie Enid Powell Phillips. She married Evans W. Myers on June 29, 1946, in Galesburg. He preceded her in death on March 3, 1997. Darlene was a homemaker and also had worked as a telephone operator in the old switchboard days in Bowen and later worked for the Crossland Locker in Bowen. She also was the special baby-sitter for the Rick Ramsey family. She was a 1935 graduate of Bowen High School and a charter member of the Bowen United Methodist Church, now the Living Faith United Methodist Church in Bowen. Mema enjoyed sewing quilts, reading, gardening, doing find-a-word puzzles, baking and cooking, with homemade noodles being her specialty. She loved watching harness racing at the summer fairs.
She is survived by a daughter, Maureen Leenerts of Linn Creek, Mo.; two grandchildren, Jeffrey (Madchen) Leenerts of Tulsa, Okla., and Wendy Leenerts of Arthur; a great-granddaughter, Emma Leenerts; a brother, Lee Phillips of Coatsburg; and numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her son-in-law, Roger Leenerts; three brothers, Donald, George and Lawrence Phillips; and three sisters, Marjorie Warner, Alice Barnes and Doris Hemphill.
SERVICES: 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 6, at Living Faith United Methodist Church in Bowen with the Rev. Dr. David Bigley conducting. Burial will be in Woodlawn Cemetery in Augusta.
VISITATION: 9:30 a.m. until the time of services Friday at the church.
MEMORIALS: Living Faith United Methodist Church or Golden Good Shepherd Home.
ARRANGEMENTS: Hamilton Funeral Home in Augusta. Condolences may be expressed online at whig.com.
[The following is re-posted from my professional blog at www.hudsonumc.org/pastor]
Six and a half years ago I went before friends, family and God to make a sacred commitment. That commitment was to my new wife that I would care for her and remain with her even when it was really hard. She, amazingly, made the same commitment to me! As I held her and thought about this commitment I was not just starry-eyed and excited (there was that, too), but I also had a feeling of anxiety. I felt a little overwhelmed. Forever is a long time, you see.
That commitment means that even when I am angry. Even when she has really messed up, I am not going to just give up (and vice-versa). It means that we will work really hard to endure, even though we are both bound to break promises or make mistakes throughout our relationship. It means that we keep going even when the ‘going gets tough.’ I think you get the idea.
On January first my church will renew our vows to God and remember our baptism during a Wesley covenant service. It is not just the words we say to God, but recognizing that God claims us and remains committed to a relationship with us…even when we break our commitments.
So, if God commits to us even when we mess up or break our promises…why should we bother recommitting to God?
Well, it’s like a sound marriage. The other person may forgive you for messing up, but if the marriage is going to be positive and life-giving: both people have to work hard at the relationship.
We can know that God is seeking after us. We can know that God loves us and commits to us. Yet, it will not be a sound relationship if we do not also commit to God, seek after God and love God in return. Imagine a one-sided marriage, would that be pleasant for either person?
As we begin this new year, I encourage each person to think about their God who loves them and think about ways to be more faithful and committed to that God. Not because God’s love depends upon it, but because, like a marriage, sharing that commitment will enrich your life and enrich your relationship with God.