This past weekend, United Methodists from my area gathered for our annual conference. It is a multi-day gathering for worship, fellowship, and decision making. It is a “required” meeting and yet it is so much more. This year, we gathered in person after meeting virtually for 2 years. I was feeling both excitement and hesitation leading into the weekend. Let me explain…
Me being gone over a weekend is hard. With many kid activities that happen on the weekends, me being gone overnight means that I need to have all the logistics worked out beforehand. And when Bill is also gone to the race track, that means the kids need to spend the night somewhere and we have to figure out pet care and all the logistics become a LOT! This particular weekend of annual conference there were several things that were happening. Bill had a Saturday night race (which means he is gone Friday morning to early Sunday morning), Allison had barn stall duty, Allen had a race scheduled for Saturday, and then I had annual conference Thursday – Sunday. Oh yeah, and Sunday was Father’s Day. Originally, we had planned for a couple of the kids to go with me, a couple of the kids to stay with Grandma, Allen would just skip the race that weekend, and the oldest two to stay at the house to handle dog duty.
And then life happened.
Cat was recuperating at Grandma’s, Allen was second in points, and we decided to add a new dog to the family (one that needed some seasoned supervision and manners training). Add to that mix a couple of the kids who were having a hard time getting along. So, we changed plans. And because Bill’s travel and work is not nearly as flexible as mine, I was the one who had to shift and make changes.
And I was grumpy about it.
I had a bad attitude about “having” to be the one shifting and missing out on some work stuff and doing all the planning. And my bad attitude rubbed off on the people around me. So by the time I got packed and headed to Lake Junaluska in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, I just was not fun to be around. The we drove through a heavy summer storm with hail which delayed our arrival time. Then our room key didn’t work and we had to wait for a new set of keys (yes, actual keys). By the time I got the the clergy session I was late and I really don’t like being late.
And then the Holy Spirit did what the Holy Spirit does so well – convicted me of my sin.
My attitude got readjusted. Although I was still feeling frustrated that I’d be missing out on an important afternoon of business and would not be able to participate in some of the fellowship activities, I remembered what a gift and privilege it is to GET to bring my kids with me to work. I remembered what a gift and privilege it is to GET to flex and shift my schedule to accommodate my family needs. I remembered what a gift and privilege it is to GET the opportunity to share aspects of my work and ministry with my kids. I remembered what a gift and privilege it is to GET to live out my intertwined calling as wife/mother/pastor.
The rest of annual conference went off without a hitch. My mom and dad actually were able to come to my house for the weekend and help out (which was good for everyone). The kids went to opening and closing worship with me (even the dog Boomer was in closing worship with us!). The kids got to walk around and get some annual conference swag which they thought was cool. They swam and experienced Messy Church and a pizza party. We spent Saturday afternoon at the race track and made new friends (I think Boomer made the most new friends). While we were at the track, a clergy friend texted me updates about the business session. And honestly, it was probably good for my heart to miss that part. Some of the business of the church and the political wrangling that goes with it just makes me sad.
As we packed up and prepared to head home Sunday after worship, God had one more little gem in store for me. During closing worship, as Bishop Carter “fixed the appointments,” the response for Elders (which is what I am ordained as) included “We will lead a life worthy of the calling”. I read that and started to cry. My personal mission is to “lead a life worthy of my calling” (Ephesians 4:1).
Yes, God, I heard you. I hear you loud and clear.
While annual conference is about worship, fellowship, and decision-making for a larger body of United Methodists, this year, for me, it was about remembering my calling. As I prepare to head back into local church pastoral ministry (starting July 1!), I needed the reminder that although being a working mom in uniquely hard, this is my call. I am called as wife/mother/pastor, a unique weaving, and my mission is to “live a life worthy of my calling.” And God truly does work it all out for God’s glory.
This calling is a gift and a privilege and it is a good and a right and joyful thing for me to remember that.