14 March 2010

Logan Gets All Clean

Logan had his first bath this evening. Here's the digital proof!

He didn't fuss too much, but he was much more content once everything was over. He was glad to return to his sleeper and a blanket. We'll see how he does in a few days when bath #2 rolls around.

11 March 2010

An Explanation for My Absence

Here's why I haven't been on here this week....

Logan Joseph Libby
March 10, 2010
1:22 p.m.
7 lbs, 10 ozs
20 1/2 in

08 March 2010

It Takes a Village to Raise an Elder - Part 6

And here is my promised special surprise...

As much as all the churches have helped me grow in my ministry and the understanding of my calling to serve the UMC with all that I have, there is one person to whom I owe the largest debt of gratitude - my wife, Debbie.

When I met Debbie I had no idea I was going to follow a call to ministry - a call that would lead us to move more frequently in our first 5 years of marriage than she did her entire life prior to meeting me.

All along the way Deb has been my biggest support and my quiet cheerleader. She has helped my get up when I didn't feel like getting up any more. She has kicked my butt when it needed to be kicked. And she has done it all with grace, patience, and humility.

When we first started dating at A&M, Deb was an accounting major and I was an engineering major. She finished her accounting degree, I changed my major twice before graduating with an economics degree. She didn't complain when I told her that I was feeling a call to ministry and that would mean 4 years in seminary. She didn't complain when I told her how the appointment process moved pastors around as needed. She didn't complain when I told her how much seminary was going to cost.

We moved to Dallas, I started working for First UMC, Plano, she worked for AT&T Wireless, and we started saving for Perkins. It was during this time that she learned to love the back of my head because that was about all she saw of it during my first three semesters in seminary - and I love her all the more for it.

During my last year in seminary we moved to Carrollton so that we would be closer to the church I was working for during that time. We also added Caitlyn to our family during our time in Carrollton, but not before I got my first appointment as a local pastor. Now that Debbie was enjoying seeing the front of my head again I was able to talk with her about how to grow new programs, how to be a better preacher, and how to properly feed a newborn (all of which I still need work on!).

Now that we are in Wichita Falls I am so thankful that she has journeyed with me during these last 9+ years. I am thankful for the ability to rely on your strength, wisdom, and courage as we have faced challenging days both personally and professionally.

I love your wit, even when it cuts my pride (perhaps especially then).

I love your zeal for clarity.

I love your incredible "mom powers" - how in the world do you keep up with Caitlyn everyday?

Deb, you are the one I love the most and the only villager that I want to spend the rest of my days with. Without you, there would be no elder to celebrate this year. If it takes a village to raise an elder, then you are the matriarch of that village!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

06 March 2010

Caitlyn's First Soccer Game

Caitlyn had her first soccer game today. She played great and had fun running around chasing the ball. Here's some shots from the day. Enjoy!

It Takes a Village to Raise an Elder - Part 5

Sorry this didn't go up earlier! Here's the final chapter (for now)...

What can I say about my current appointment - the church family that hears me preach every weekend, whether they like it or not! I'll start with thank you because it's the truth and it's always a good place to start.

When I came to UUMC I had no idea what being the "pastor-in-charge" entailed, but I knew that I had been called by God and sent by the Bishop to serve here. I quickly learned that I had much to learn and needed to rely on conversations held with lay leaders during my first few weeks in WF. As I transitioned from one pastor among many to the only pastor a church has, I have learned that my pastoral identity has taken a huge leap up and there are times that I haven't measured up to that identity.

I have learned what it means to work with the committee structure within the UMC - even when it takes more people to approve a move forward. I have learned what it takes to plan worship week in and week out. I have learned how to help a family grieve the loss of a loved one, even if I didn't know the loved one very well (or at all). I have learned that no matter how small or insignificant a decision may seem, someone will be upset about it and make their opinion known - and I can't do a thing about that.

I am learning new things everyday: how to say goodbye to staff members, how to say hello to new church members, how to keep the office running smoothly (still working on this one), and how to maintain a good sense of balance between work and home.

I am still learning, but I hope that I never stop learning. I hope that UUMC is willing to continue to help me learn. UUMC has been patient with a greenhorn preacher, pastor, and congregational leader. Thank you for sharing your lives with me and with my family over the past 18 months. We are looking forward to many more years of fruitful ministry at UUMC!

Tomorrow - a special treat!

05 March 2010

It Takes a Village to Raise an Elder - Part 4

Continuing through my journey of thanksgiving...

Trietsch Memorial UMC, Flower Mound
How can I start to say thanks to the people of Trietsch? I learned so much during my 3 years in Flower Mound that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my ministry career. I am not quite sure how many different ministry areas I interfaced with, but I know that I had a chance to meet a ton of great people and made a bunch of mistakes that I could learn from.

The most significant group of lay people during my time at Trietsch would have to be my Lay Ministry Committee. This group of eight dedicated folks spent an hour with me once a month during my last two years to talk about my ministry, my growth as a pastoral leader, and exploring new ways of doing ministry at Trietsch. Alan, Betty, Chris, JohnS, JohnM, Patty, Michelle, David, Jaime (I know that's nine, but we swapped Jamie for JohnS during the 2nd year) helped me to discern my gifts for ministry and pushed me to take risks, love God, and serve with all my heart. I am deeply indebted to this group of people. I would not be where I am today without their influence.

The next significant group of lay people (and some clergy) would have to be the staff. I promise you that they made me look 100x better than I actually was on numerous occasions! I would never have laughed so hard, prayed so much, or served so faithfully had it not been for the wonderful men and women of the Trietsch staff. I can't begin to tell all the stories here, but if any of you reading this are members (or were members) of Trietsch's staff - I am deeply indebted to you as well.

Finally, I would like to say a special thanks to the dedicated folks who served as ushers, greeters, info desk volunteers, parking lot attendants, donut table volunteers, trolley drivers, medical team volunteers, Sunday school teachers, Bible study leaders, and small group leaders. On many occasions you went above and beyond the call of duty to serve the church and our community and I thank you.

Tomorrow - University UMC!

04 March 2010

It Takes a Village to Raise an Elder - Part 3

Still saying my thanks this week...

Holy Covenant UMC, Carrollton
Of all the churches I have served Holy Covenant challenged me to grow in my understanding of God the most. I entered seminary theologically conservative on every issue. When I graduated from Perkins I considered myself to be theologically moderate, but politically conservative. When I finished my internship at Holy Covenant I considered myself theologically moderate and politically moderate.

Even after getting off to an auspicious start with my Lay Teaching Committee (sorry Susan!), this group of dedicated people met with me for two hours once a month to critique my sermons, discuss my pastoral care, push my theological thinking, and encourage me to be the best pastor that I could be. Susan, Charlie, Jan, Randy, Jim, Evan, and Cheryl spent many hours reading my reflection papers, discussing my sermons, and helping me to articulate my theological understanding of local church ministry. I am deeply indebted to these wonderful folks because I am a better pastor today because of the time they invested in me.

The congregation as a whole surrounded me with support as I learned how to find my voice in the pulpit, find my teaching style in the classroom, and find my way around the justice issues within our community. I even got to write a few book reviews for the Dallas Morning News thanks to a member of Holy Covenant!

To my Disciple 1 class - thank you for not falling asleep when I went off on a tangent about some random biblical fact that had little to do with our lesson and even less to do with your lives! To Sharyn, Jana, Becky, Carol, Denise, Debbie, and Don - thank you for allowing me to be part of your lives and for teaching me what it means to be part of a staff. To the whole congregation of HCUMC - thank you for loving Debbie and I while we were there and continuing to care about us after we left. Thank you also for giving this "greenhorn" an opportunity to stretch his wings and see if he could fly. Thanks for picking me up when I fell and teaching me grace in the midst of learning how to "do church"!

Tomorrow - Trietsch Memorial UMC, Flower Mound!

03 March 2010

It Takes a Village to Raise an Elder - Part 2

Continuing from yesterday's post...

First UMC, Plano
Oh, FUMC Plano! I am so grateful for your patience, persistence, and grace while I learned what working in a church was really all about!

During my 3+ years at FUMC I had three different job titles - all of which I was far less than qualified to hold.

First, I was the Assistant Youth Minister. I spent plenty of time doing office work, prepping rooms for Sunday School and Bible study, and working on the monthly Youth Newsletter. I also spent plenty of time building relationship with the youth, parents, and youth sponsors. I learned how to lead a Bible study, teach a Sunday School class, and successfully lead a game for youth. I am indebted to Hilary for teaching me.

Second, I was the Interim Youth Minister. When Hilary left to be a mom, I took over responsibility for the youth group. Fortunately this only lasted a few months because I was in way over my head. During this time I realized that the ins and outs of Youth Ministry are far more complex than I had originally thought and that I was ill-equipped to handle the pressures of leading a youth group of that size. I am indebted to the Youth Sponsors & Sunday School teachers (Mark, Yo, Kevin M, Dan, Kevin C, and many others) who made me look good when I didn't have a clue.

Third, I was the Minister with Young Adults. When Brady came on staff to be the Youth Minister, I shifted my attention to college students within our community. In the 18 months I held this position I learned how to develop new programming where there was none before, learned to market a new ministry, and develop relationships with 20-somethings who were both my peers and my responsibility. I am indebted to those who joined our efforts at launching a new ministry with a guy who had never done that before - especially Terri, Andrew, Pat, Sara, and others.

Outside of my direct responsibilities I worked on several projects that required heavy lay involvement. Some of them went better than others, but all of them went better because I realized I couldn't do it alone.

Thank you to all the wonderful people at First UMC, Plano! I learned great lessons during my time there and I will carry them with me for the rest of my ministry.

02 March 2010

It Takes a Village to Raise an Elder - Part 1

Now that I am a week out from my successful ordination interview on Wednesday I am beginning to understand the magnitude of the work of the laity within our journey to ordination. I wanted to take few posts to reflect on my learnings at each of the churches who have invested time, money, and energy in helping me get to this point in my career.

Here's the schedule for this week:
Wednesday - First UMC, Plano

First UMC, Victoria
FUMC was the church I grew up in during the most formational years of my life.

I remember the Sunday School teachers (Sandy) who loved a quiet little boy while teaching him about how much God loved him.

I remember how the staff and pastors (Laura, Robert, Ricky) trusted a wily teenager to read the Word of God within the context of worship on numerous occasions, and even gave him the opportunity to plan worship for Youth Sunday one year.

I remember Youth Pastors & Sponsors (Karen, Ken, Sherri) who trusted me enough to give me the opportunity to be a 6th grade group leader.

I remember other church members (Robert & Joye, George & Rose, Hugh & Janet, and many, many others) who encouraged me to follow God with my life even when I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

As I stop to think about the impact the laity on the formation of future clergy leaders, I am eternally grateful for the body of Christ at FUMC Victoria. They loved me when I was ornery, they loved me when I was trying new things, and they loved me because they loved God and God loved me.

I appreciate all that FUMC Victoria did for me and I will never be able to fully repay their generosity and kindness.

Tomorrow - First UMC, Plano!