THAT’S WHY WE’RE HERE

Several times since my wife and I moved to Texas something has happened that prompted one of us to say “That’s why we’re here.” We relocated to help our daughter, who has a full time job, with our two grandsons–ages 7 and 3. We talked and thought about moving for over a year, and finally pulled the trigger this past December. The past six months have proven to be even better than we imagined as we have become a vital part of the daily lives of our daughter and grandsons.

Their dog became ill and needed to be taken to the vet. Jan volunteered and said “that’s why we’re here.” Our younger grandson got strep throat and I stayed home with him one day. I told my daughter “that’s why we’re here.” Jan does so much around our daughter’s house that I have occasionally complained only to be reminded “that’s why we’re here.” It was my privilege to help coach our older grandson’s little league baseball team. One time the coach told me I didn’t have to carry the equipment, but I told him “that’s why we’re here.” I won’t bore you with more examples–I think you get the point.

As important as being fully engaged as grandparents is, there is more. On multiple occasions our new pastor has suggested to us that God had a reason for bringing us to our new church. We’re not yet totally sure what that is, but I have already preached on two weekends and we are talking about other ways I can serve. Not only are we plugging into our new church, I have had a variety of opportunities in other venues to preach, teach, and serve. I am especially excited to fill the position of teaching the Bible class at Amarillo High School beginning this fall.

Through the years I have often been asked by people who were discouraged or depressed or seriously ill, “Why am I still here?” Occasionally I have offered a reason or two, but I think it is better when I ask what they think the reason is. It is not always obvious, but there are reasons why all of us are where we are. The challenge, of course, is to realize there are reasons, explore what they may be, and then fulfill them.

The Texas Panhandle is the fourth place Jan and I have lived in the 43 years we have been married. There was a reason we lived on the west side of Cincinnati and I was youth pastor at Bridgetown Church of Christ for almost five years. There was reason we moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia and I was pastor of Delaware Valley Church of Christ for almost 10 years. There was a reason we moved to Moreno Valley, California, and I was the founding pastor of Discovery Christian Church where we stayed for 30 years.

As hard as it was to leave Southern California, we have not regretted our move to Texas. There is a reason we are here and we know at least in part what that reason is. And we look forward to realizing other reasons why we’re here.

Why are you where you are?

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ARE WE THERE YET?

Although the title question of this post is usually asked when traveling somewhere by car, it can also be asked in a variety of situations and circumstances. In early December I wrote about Jan’s and my move from Southern California to the Texas Panhandle under the title “A Bright Sadness.” She left a couple of weeks ahead of me and as I packed my car to drive from Moreno Valley to Texas I concluded my thoughts: “Right now my bright sadness is sadder than it is bright. Soon, however, the brightness will outshine the sadness.” After almost three months I’m asking myself, “Are we there yet?” The short answer is “Not yet, but we’re making progress.”

I have been overwhelmed by the welcome and warmth of so many of the people we have met. It seems like everyone we meet is cordial and interested in us. I’ve never been addressed as “honey” so often in my life. One lady two weeks ago actually called me “sugar.” I think the last person who called me that was my mom many years ago. When we walk the dogs we almost always see people we greet by name and who greet us by name. I joined Gold’s Gym and a racquetball league and the guys have all been friendly. I have yet to win a game, but after each match the guy who beat me has given me a free lesson!

I’ve played golf a few times and joined up with others a couple of times, but have not yet found any regulars with whom I can play. I hope to connect with a couple of the guys I play racquetball with and return the favor in golf they have shown me in racquetball. As so many told me ahead of time, the real drawback for golf here is the wind. I did join single players on two occasions and exchanged contact info with them. The one sent me an email saying I was “a hoot to play with.” The other, who is 79, told me to call him if I was willing to play with someone that old. I am and I will.

All the churches we have visited have welcomed us with open arms and we have officially become members at one. I am looking forward to the opportunity to preach in a couple of weeks as all the preaching pastors will be gone on a Mexico mission trip. I believe this church is going to be a great place for Jan and me to worship, serve, and fellowship.

I do have a gentleman I would call my best friend in Amarillo. And he truly is a gentleman. We connected over three years ago when Jan and I first started thinking about relocating to Amarillo. Over the course of those three years we stayed in touch and since arriving he has been a great help and friend to me. He is a man of faith, we are about the same age, and so far, he is the only person I have been able to beat in racquetball!

I am still exploring potential opportunities for part time work that will allow me to serve in ministry in some way, but nothing yet has solidified. I am not, however, discouraged.

The brightest aspect of our move, of course, has been the opportunity to live with our daughter and two grandsons and help take care of them.  Jan and I stayed home with the little guy (age 3) sick last Tuesday and I stayed home with the big guy (age 6) sick last Thursday. I have rug burns on both knees and elbows. We move into our own house in a couple of weeks, but we will stay deeply involved and closely connected with them.

We have transferred our cars and put Texas tags on them, but we cannot get Texas driver’s licenses until we have utility bills. We still grieve the passing of our cat, but our dog, Macy, is doing great playing with her new friend Leonard (Audrey’s dog). I am looking forward to a return to Southern California for a visit in late April or May.

I think people ask the question “Are we there yet?” because they have unrealistic expectations with regard to how long it will take to get to where they are going. And those unrealistic expectations result in impatience which makes the trip even more frustrating. It would probably be helpful if we tried to enjoy the trip itself. Jan and I have not fully arrived, but we are making good progress—and we will get there.

(If you have not read the post “A Bright Sadness” you can do so at https://bobmmink.com/2016/12/05/a-bright-sadness/ )

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