No, I am not pregnant.
(But our “big news” does sometimes make me feel like vomiting!).
The big news in our life, bringing me back to the blogosphere after too long a hiatus, is that after 10 years of serving as Co-Pastors of Mount Hamilton Baptist Church Friesen and Friesen will be changing to Friesen and….we don’t know yet.
Dallas announced this Sunday that he will be taking a new position as Director of Congregational Development with the Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec. He will begin his new position on July 13. I am immensely proud of him. I can’t think of anyone better for this role, or with a better mix of gifts, skills, experience and education to do it well. Way to go, hubby!
We’ve been asked a lot of questions over the last three days since announcing our news: What will the job be like? (Dallas can answer that one). Will he commute? (Yes). When and how will MHBC hire someone else? (TBD). For me, I have been asked the same question so many times now that I thought I should take some time to answer it: “How are YOU doing?”
I am so touched when people ask me this. It shows the thoughtfulness and love of people in our lives. I appreciate that you get that this is a pretty big deal for me, and that you want to know how I’m holding up as the one who will be left behind. (No Revelation pun intended there, Mount Hamilton friends!).
The short answer is that I am excited. And I am nervous. And I am sad. And I am happy. And I am completely freaking out. And I am at peace.
Okay, I’ll elaborate. I truly am excited. I am excited because this is such a good thing for Dallas. I am also excited because this is a good thing for me, and for MHBC. Change is scary, but it also forces us to re-assess, to ask good questions, to seek God in new ways. It is clear that God has led Dallas to this role, which also tells me that God is leading us at MHBC to something new. I’m excited for the challenge that lies ahead for me personally, as I learn to negotiate this ministry in new ways, and I’m excited for our church to come together to discern and seek God together.
I am also nervous and sad. I met Dallas on my first day of Seminary. Three weeks later, we started dating, and 11 months later we were married. We have been doing ministry together ever since. Now, here I am, facing the reality of coming into work each day and not being able to yell out my door: “Dallas! My computer is frozen!” – and have him come and help me. I won’t be able to bounce ideas off him in the middle of the day, or get him to make my handouts look fancier. I won’t have him to give me that “You’re talking too much Leanne” look that he gives me in meetings when I need to stop talking. I will have to work with people who don’t speak “Friesen-eze” (a term made up by a past administrator and embraced by each one since to describe our ability to communicate with each other while often being unable to express those same ideas to non-Friesens). I won’t have someone to play guitar for me on the fly when I need it. I won’t be able to eat his lunch if I forget mine.
Most people I know seem to think that working with your spouse would be awful. People actually tell me that all the time. “I could never work with my husband! How do you do it?” But I have loved working with Dallas, every single day. I have loved doing life together in every part of lives, from raising to kids, to hosting people in our home, from marrying people to doing funerals, from getting breakfast in the morning for our family to walking in the church doors a few minutes later and planning a worship service. It hasn’t always been perfect or easy, but it has been joy.
Not working with Dallas is a huge loss. The truth is Dallas keeps a lot going around here. For example, the other day someone from the daycare asked me for a plunger. Not only did I not know where to find a plunger, I did not even know where the key to the Janitor’s closet was to search for said plunger. When Dallas later returned from a meeting I lamented: “I don’t even know where the plunger is!! Everything is going to fall apart!!” Then Dallas said: “I can tell you where the plunger is.”
And, well, there it is.
I know I will figure out. Because I really do believe that the will of God will never take us where the grace of God can’t keep us. Because it is always God who is doing the work, and not us. Because a minister leaving can’t stop what God is doing.
We’re going to do this together, MHBC. By God’s grace, WE WILL FIND THE PLUNGER – and all the other stuff, too.
A few weeks ago I preached about embracing the word AND. This season is a great example of using that word. Let me show you:
My co-worker, and my husband, is leaving AND I’m not being left alone.
Things are changing AND God is good.
I will have new responsibilities AND God will lead me.
We will all miss Dallas AND we will be blessed by the ministry of someone new.
I’ll find the plunger AND the key to the Janitor’s closet.
It’s been a beautiful, challenging, exciting, fun, growing ten years of ministering together AND…
So, so, so much more.
I’ll miss you Reverend Doctor Dallas! (and now, can you come in my office and tell me if it’s okay to post this?)