Wednesday, December 28, 2011

O Little Town of Linesville--4 Wagner Move FAQs

Okay, I know this post title would have been a bit more apropos if I had written it on Christmas Day, but you still get the idea! I'm not sure if anyone reads my blog who isn't a friend of mine on Facebook, but just in case the news has somehow escaped you, the afore-mentioned angst had a happy ending for us Sunday: Jonathan was voted in as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Linesville, Pennsylvania, Christmas Day!

1.Where is Linesville?

Contrary to my joked-about mistaken Facebook post, Linesville is in Pennsylvania, not Ohio; however, it does border Ohio. It's also about 45 minutes south of Erie, Pennsylvania, which is on Lake Erie, so it's pretty much in the far Northwestern corner of the state, as you can see in the Google Maps view linked here. It's only 80 miles from Cleveland, Ohio, and slightly further from Pittsburgh. Its population is just over 1,000, similar to Gillett, the town where Jonathan formerly pastored.

Jonathan grew up in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, which is in Southern Lancaster County; that is where his parents and both brothers and their families still live. I can't get the map link to work right, but it's basically in the opposite corner of the state; it's about a 6-hour drive. (We'll be about 10 hours from Madison, which is where my parents live.)

2.Why are you excited to go there?

Well, you might like to visit us to see Pennsylvania's second-most-visited tourist attraction, but we're not moving to Linesville to find out if the ducks really do walk on the fish. Jonathan is excited to again fulfill his life's calling as a pastor, preaching and teaching God's Word and serving those within the church and the Linesville community.

When we set out for our second visit to the church, I have to admit that my focus was on getting out of this transition time and into a more permanent home and routine. However, during that visit, we truly began forming relationships with people and desiring to go in order to serve them, not just because we liked it there (which we actually do!). The church itself has about 100 people, including a balanced range of age groups and many children.

(Random fun fact: With our family's move, we'll help even out the gender imbalance among the children in two churches. Here at Calvary Bible Fellowship in Madison, there are far more boys than girls. At Calvary Baptist Church in Linesville, there are currently many more girls than boys--I think I counted 14 out of 20 in their Christmas program!)

3. Where will you be living?

We'll be living in the church's parsonage, which is located about a mile from the church. Both are outside of town, but they are not on adjacent property. The house is a 2-story home with an unfinished basement and a small, unattached garage. It sits on 5 acres, most of which are wooded. It has 4 spacious bedrooms, 2 full baths, and the pastor's study. One of the bedrooms is on the main floor, and we plan to use it as a play room/guest room. (So if you're in the area or feel like taking a road trip, please do come visit--we will certainly have room for you!)

I don't remember many details except that it does have a dishwasher (something I've been without since our August move) and a really nice-sized mud room (something I've always dreamed of having!). We didn't have much time to look around at it, and taking pictures or measurements seemed like it would come across as presumptuous, so we didn't. Now, I really wish we had! Oh, well. I (kind of) like surprises!

4. When are you actually moving?

The big move, our third/fourth in 19 months, is scheduled for January 15-16. At the time of this posting, we have a meager 2.5 weeks! Yikes! So what in the world am I doing blogging? Good question! Well, actually, I feel like I kept things pretty organized since we moved here in August, and many, many boxes remain unpacked. Besides that, we've practically become pros at this whole moving thing. Besides, you probably already know that I'm a little crazy about this whole writing thing--in some ways, it's my therapy. I do have some paid writing to do, so I should really end this now.

Here's an abbreviated timeline for our move, for any of you who want to pray for us or help us pack up here in Madison, Wisconsin, or unpack out in Linesville:
  • Mon., Jan. 9th – Pastor Wagner & friends in Madison, WI, to load 6’x12’ U-Haul trailer pulled behind Pastor’s truck.
  • Tues., Jan. 10th – Pastor Wagner to drive to Linesville and unload trailer at parsonage.
  • Wed., Jan. 11th – Pastor Wagner to leave from Erie airport and fly back to Madison.
  • Sat., Jan. 14th – Pastor Wagner and friends in Madison, WI, to load 20’ U-Haul truck.
  • Sun., Jan. 15th – After attending church in the morning in Madison, Pastor Wagner to drive U-Haul truck and Tammy to drive minivan about 5 hours toward Linesville.
  • Mon., Jan. 16th – Pastor Wagner and Tammy to drive the remainder of the way to Linesville and unload truck.
  • Wed., Jan. 18th—Pastor Wagner to attend first service in his role as pastor of CBC Linesville.
  • Sun., Jan. 22nd—Pastor Wagner’s first Sunday as pastor of CBC Linesville.

At least 2 of my boys are still travel-sized!

Josh's favorite part of moving is the extra boxes and bins to climb on!
As long as we can all remember this part, we'll be fine!
This picture was taken of our family the month of move #1 of 4.
(Yes, we're all 4 there--Josh is hiding in my tummy!)

Caleb has moved many times in his not-quite-three years of life.
Here's hoping (and praying!) that after this, we don't move again
for a long, long, long time!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ah, the Angst!

I have to admit it--this post is actually a copy of the Christmas letter I'm sending out to some friends and family who aren't (or aren't often) Online. It's a cross between a family newsletter and a ministry-search update. Sorry I didn't take time to find Christmas-y online paper for you. Hope you can pretend!

Dear treasured friends and family,

Last year, there was no newsy post to accompany our family picture, but our family has had a quite eventful 2 years! In June of last year, Jonathan resigned from his pastoral position at Gillett Baptist Church, his first senior pastorate. We moved in with Tammy’s parents, fully expecting to move to a new ministry within a few months, preferably before Tammy’s October due date. At the culmination of a second healthy pregnancy, we welcomed Joshua Seth into our family October 5, 2010. Caleb won our hearts anew as he seemed to be instinctively drawn to love on his little brother.

When Josh was only 5 weeks old, we traipsed down to Tucson, Arizona, where Jonathan candidated as pastor of a church. Thanksgiving week, we learned that the percentage of votes was not high enough. The first week of December 2010, we moved into an apartment here in Madison. When a raise that Jonathan was led to expect in October still hadn’t come through by January 2011, God used this seeming delay to rekindle Tammy’s long-time dream of getting paid to write!

In April 2011, our sweet boy Caleb turned 2. In May, we decided to look for a residence that was closer to our church and either more spacious or more economical—and our God provided us with a place that amazingly met all three qualifications. In August, we moved for the third time in just over a year.

October 2011 was an exciting month for us. Not only did Josh celebrate his first birthday and have his grandparents visit from Pennsylvania, but Tammy met a fairly ambitious goal in her new writing career, and Jonathan finally received his raise—25% of his original salary! We also visited a church in Ohio.

In November 2011, we took a long-overdue trip to visit Jonathan’s family in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, as well as a church in northwest Pennsylvania. As I write this, we have less than a week before the two of us make our way back to that same church for him to candidate. The plan is for the church to vote on him the following Sunday—that’s right, Christmas Day!

As we hope and (seemingly insanely) plan for our fourth move in one-and-a-half years, our hearts are both heavy and full. The heaviness comes from our tiredness of moving and waiting and not being able to plan ahead, never mind fearing yet another disappointment. We trust that this angst can help us to better appreciate the faith and waiting of the Old Testament saints, who wandered in the wilderness and trusted in a promised a Messiah. Of course, their hope was far more sure than ours, and yet we still do have a certain hope: That same Promised and Expected One will someday return. With Him, the peace and joy and perfect life of which we can only dream will become real; the transitory nature of this life points to that eternal and secure hope.

Even if we do receive yet one more disappointment Christmas Day, our hearts will be full in knowing that God does reign and keep His promises and care about the details of our lives. Along with the author of Hebrews 11, I think these words from “Blessings” by Laura Story describe that tension well:

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win,

We know the pain reminds this heart that this is not our home.

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life

Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life—the rain, the storms, the hardest nights—
are [God’s] mercies in disguise?

As last Christmas, we unpacked our holiday d├ęcor along with the rest of our belongings, this year we hope to be packing everything away along with our manger scene to move someplace where we can get settled in and live and serve and raise our family. Will you pray with us to that end?

With hope eternal,

Jonathan & Tammy Wagner

This is the version of our Christmas card that I'll be handing out this weekend at what we hope will be our new church home. I created it myself, with one of the family pictures from the photo shoot shown in this video. I created both the Christmas card and video with my digital scrapbooking software.

(As a side note, I'd like to launch a side business marketing these types of products. What do you think? What would you pay for these types of services? Just testing the waters--thanks for your input and your continued prayers!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

So Much for That Idea . . .

In my last post, I mentioned trying to blog at least on a weekly basis . . . so much for that idea! I really miss blogging here regularly. Maybe someday I'll get back into the habit, or have time for this indulgence, or . . . whatever you want to call this whole blogging deal.

Most of my November, though, was spent trying to cram a month's worth of (paid) writing into 2 1/2 weeks (which I did, by the way!), and since our trip to my hubby's hometown in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, we've basically been recovering--from the trip and our colds--two of which turned into infections!

We've also been doing some Christmas-ing, of course, which for me mainly meant decorating our place in time to host a ladies' Christmas activity for our church--which is the kind of thing I really delight to do! With my two littles and our constantly up-in-the-air status (more on that later this week--and that's a promise!), I'm far less active in serving than I've typically been and than, in many ways, I'd like to be. So I wanted to spoil our faithful ladies just a bit and invite them to a bring-only-yourself event, for once.

My friend Christina made the main course, which was a delightful stromboli, as well as delicious cranberry-and-white chocolate cookies, and I basically made some other goodies--you know, the fun stuff I like to puts around and play with in all my "free time"! :) My faves are peanut butter balls, peppermint Oreo truffles, and cinnamon ornaments. (The full menu is posted below.) Maybe I'll post links to the recipe cards I plan to create for them this week--if anyone is interested . . .

Here are some long-in-coming samples (as promised in my October post!) of Josh's 1-year photo shoot--isn't he just a doll-baby?

Yes, he can now walk without holding our hands, but I just love that he couldn't for his pics, because it afforded us this sweet mommy-daddy-baby shot!

And my little Josh-a-boo is certainly built like a football player--so different from his tall, skinny big brother!

My grandma used to call this a "dickins" look--and, boy, does this kid have it down!

I'd thought I'd like these naked, more baby-ish pics more than I did. I guess the time has passed . . .

And here we are, all four of us, relishing the sweater weather back in October!