Friday, March 11, 2016

{pretty, happy, funny, real} in a life-changing February

| a weekly capturing of contentment in everyday life |

"Weekly" is not exactly accurate since it's been over a month since I posted anything other than the devotional Lent daybook posts.  I'd like to say this was an intentional fast for the season or something, but that wouldn't be true.  

The real reason for the lack of personal posts is that February was cray-zay.  I spent 17 of the 29 days out of town (sleeping in about five different states), and I spent a total of 8 days sick in bed (literally). On the few remaining days, we visited with a few friends, went to work, marked Ash Wednesday, and accepted a new job in a new state. 

What?!?  Keep reading, friends.

A few photos to practice contentment this week

|old friends|

A visit with an old friend

We have not seen A. for probably 8 years, before living in Austin was even an idea in our heads.  One of the most serendipitous moments we've experienced since moving to Austin was the day we met a new family at Christ Church, and in our first conversation discovering that they had lived with our friend across the world in Asia.  Not only did we discover we had a mutual friend, but we learned that this very family had been one we'd prayed for when A. sent the requests about their daughter who was seriously ill.  And here she was -- in Austin -- miraculously cured and full of life.  The whole thing came full circle when A. came back to the U.S. and visited all of us in Austin.  
We enjoyed a breezy dinner out doors and caught up on stories.  It was especially sweet for Natalie - who had prayed for A. with her Sunday School class in NY when she was little - to ask more grown-up questions about life on mission.  


| Central Texas ministry retreat|

ministry retreat in Central Texas

At the very beginning of the month, we spent a few days at a retreat center with a small band of church friends, training in a new ministry offering. There was just enough time for me to get out for a late afternoon hike.  I accidentally went far beyond the trail, finally stopping at the edge of a cliff.  I got to watch the sun set, and it was gorgeous.  Then I hustled back while there was still a bit of daylight because I'm still terrified of all that creeps and crawls in Texas.

|Connecticut interview |

St. Mary's-by-the-sea Park

Fairfield, CT

I've mentioned over the past year, somewhat between the lines, that Brian and I really did not know where we would end up working once he is ordained into the Anglican priesthood. Last summer it became clear to us that we would not likely have the opportunity to rector a church in Austin, we prayed hard about church planting outside of Austin vs. interviewing for Rector positions outside of Texas.  As part of that discernment process, we sent resumes to a few hiring churches.  We wanted to get a sense of what other Anglican churches in the U.S. were experiencing, and what needs they were expressing in terms of pastoral leadership. 

Two of the three locations followed up with Brian with several Skype interviews.  After each conversation, Brian was energized not only by the questions, but also by the earnest hearts of the church members in this hard task of searching for a new priest.

Much to our amazement, both churches invited us to interview in person within one week of each other.  In theory that sounds logical -- back to back interviews.  In practice it was emotionally and physically exhausting. Not just because of the toll of air travel and meeting large groups of new people for weekend-long intense conversations, but the greater exhaustion came from the love we felt for each location.  We hoped to be chosen -- as any normal human would -- but we also agonized the choice.  Our choice to respond, to leave Austin, and, essentially, to leave behind one of the congregations we met and prayed about, in addition to the church we already serve and love here in Austin.

It surprised me how hard that felt.

Providentially, one of the dear members of the church in Connecticut handed us a homemade loaf of Rye bread on our way out the door Sunday afternoon.  And so, we had chunks of bread and glasses of wine for our hotel room dinner that night.  While it started to snow outside our window. And it was very, very good.

Of course, one of the perks of interviewing in Connecticut was flying in and out of our favorite city in the world.  And, not only that, we got snowed into Brooklyn for two nights because our flight home was cancelled and the next available flight wasn't for another two days.

Oh darn...

We made the most of our added time, traipsing through sleet, wind and snow for a delightful belated Valentine's Day dinner at the excellent Franny's.  This photo shows our dessert, but the rest of the meal was utterly fantastic as well.


The rest of our time in NYC
  • the quintessential NYC Italian eating experience, in which I was the only female in the crowded cafe and we found out we had to pay cash when we're already through the line and the little Italian owner-guy told Brian "It's OK. Eat it before it gets cold! You can pay me later." (which we did, of course)
  • Waiting out the pouring rain inside Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn
  • Reading, writing, people-watching in the perfectly buzzy The Greene Grape Annex coffee shop (across from Greenlight)

| Virginia interview |

A day and half after returning to Austin from Connecticut, we headed out for our second weekend of interviews in southeastern Virginia. 

This church was dear and we fell in love with each person - from the two-year-old to the 91-year-old couple.  They are a small band of people who love Jesus, love each other and love their town and we will keep praying that God sends them exactly the right shepherd to join them.

| Maryland sister visit |

When we looked at the map and realized how close we'd be to my sister's new house in Maryland.  How could we miss the chance to visit?  And I can't stop looking at this picture. (we were recreating this one before my niece Ellie was born). This picture represents so much prayer and so much courage from my brother-in-law and sister.  We give thanks to God.

| Denton daughter weekend |

Mother/Daughter event with Kendra

After catching up with two days of work back in Austin, I loaded up my podcast playlist and hit the road to Denton for a weekend with my daughter.  Her sorority hosts an annual mom's event, and we've begun a tradition of getting a hotel room and hanging out for a whole weekend. We got time to trip around town a bit, hitting up the huge used bookstore, a couple of cute cafes, and meeting up with Kendra's roomies and their mothers. Another highlight of the weekend was helping Kendra prepare her support letter mailing for her mission trip to Kenya this summer. 

On Sunday I visited Kendra's church with her, and loved the opportunity to worship with yet another Anglican church earnestly seeking to love God and neighbors well.  

As I said, it was a full month with some life-changing results. We are grateful, excited, nervous, sad and eager.  I imagine I'll be talking a lot about it all here in the coming months. In the meantime, here's the basic announcement in Brian's words:

Big News for the Murphy Family | Christ Church website

Have YOU captured any contentment this week? 
 I'd love to hear about it!

| Join in at P,H,F,R to see other wonderful people practicing contentment. |

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