Well, not the Joseph Smith clan, but still a Smith clan.
Here it is, Christmas Eve, and I find I haven’t posted a thang on here in 8 months. Yikes. (that’s pronounced “yi-kuss” in the Smith house). And now, there is so much to say, I’m a bit tongue-tied. Or finger bound. Or whatever it is where you don’t know how to start and you’re typing. Here's my attempt at an update. It's gonna be long. You're forewarned.
Back in May, or thereabouts, Karen and I began making plans to open a restaurant; a breakfast restaurant to be more specific. I was pondering menu ideas, looking at location options and costs, girding my loins for the financial risks we were going to assume. I took an extension class at the local university on starting a business. I got a job at Starbucks with a two-fold purpose: get some experience working in food service, and have health benefits while working part-time, so that ultimately I could leave my pastoral position at church and have health insurance for the fam while we started up the restaurant.
And then God intervened.
You see, back in 2011, I had applied and been accepted to begin work on a master’s degree in professional counseling. But after being accepted, the thought of doing anything that involved ministry was just not attractive. I was exhausted, defeated, weary, tired of complainers and apathy and people who criticize, and worn out trying to assist in leading what felt like a resistant group of Christians, many of whom did not seem to want to give themselves whole heartedly to Jesus and follow him with joy and abandon.
And then the cost of the degree freaked me out. Pay a butt-load of money to learn how to keep helping people who don’t really want to be helped? No thanks.
End result? Dropped the idea of the master’s degree and kept my eyes open for what other change might be available, attractive, enticing.
And so, after a year and a half, we were on our way to this breakfast place – The Cinnamon Shack was our tentative name – when I had a conversation with a long-time friend I hadn’t seen in a while. He asked me about life, and I told him what we were planning. And out of the blue, he asked me why wasn’t I thinking about going into counseling. Years earlier, we had worked together, and he reminded me that I was a useful sounding board and instrumental in helping him. From his perspective, it only made sense for me incorporate it more intentionally into my life and profession.
I dismissed my wise friend with, “I need to do something besides ministry.”
But that conversation stayed with me for the next week. Constantly. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. God kept pulling at me, making me think about why I didn’t want to pursue a counseling degree. It seemed like God was saying, "Why aren't you thinking about this, Rich?" (For those of you reading this who think I’m delusional to believe God had some part of this, that’s okay. I’m not offended. I just don’t agree with you.) After several days of thinking and praying, I realized I wasn’t in the same place I was in 2011, and that while I did want to do something different from the work I’m currently doing, I also wanted to be involved with bringing the hope, peace and contentment I know in Jesus to other people; and having some counseling tools in my belt would be a great way to do that.
So, that brings me to today. If you live here in Utah and attend CenterPoint Church you know this, but for the rest of you, as of the end of December I’m resigning from my church job. I’ll continue working at Starbucks while I get my master’s degree. If all goes according to plan (and let’s face it, things rarely go according to plan), I’ll be finished in May of 2016. The next two and half years are a bit unknowable – we aren’t exactly sure how it’s all going to work, especially the money part, but Karen and I both are quite content, at peace even, that this is what’s next. What will we do when I’m done? Not sure. Could be back in pastoral ministry, could be exclusively counseling, could be some hybrid of the two, could be something completely unexpected. We’re grateful to skip through life with our passionately loving God, and to face all our obstacles with Him.
That’s my update. Now for the less angsty. These won’t be as wordy, mainly because I know what I was thinking, but while I am an amazing father and husband, as evidenced by my ability to live with 4 women and all of us still enjoy each other, I’m still not very adept at reading their minds. Which, come to think of it, is a good thing. I’m sure I’d be a bit disconcerted if I knew what they were thinking sometimes.
|At Snow Canyon, southern Utah, back in June|
Anya has finished her third semester at Utah State in Logan, and did it in fine form. She’s majoring in something that has to do with early childhood, but is broader than that; it’s like family and child development, or something. She’s told me repeatedly, but I’ve asked so many times that I just can’t ask anymore because I feel like an old man asking a teenager about an iPhone. (You can do what with that? In my day, we had our phone on the wall and we turned the dial and it took 30 seconds to dial a number and the connection was pitiful…and we were happy) I just know that she’ll be able to work with small children, but also have a wider range of skillzzzz. She’s taking next semester off to earn some money so that Utah State can keep getting paid. And as always, she is still every child’s favorite baby sitter, in Cache County and Utah County. (You think I’m kidding, or exaggerating, or I’m just a cloying parent. I’m not. Children ask their parents to go out just so they can have Anya. She’s that spectacular. Well, some kids do. For reals.)
|Salt and Pepper at Halloween|
|Edmund Dantes, the sock monkey|
|Snowman pinata with hand knitted scarf|
Emily has played around with photography. At first it was for a class, but then she actually started to enjoy it. When we need something to look good, or arty, we put Emily behind he camera. Unfortunately, that means we have fewer pictures of her.
We’re not sending out Christmas cards/pictures this year. I’ve been working way too much to have time to put that together. I should have just tasked Jenna with it; it would have looked way better than anything I would have come up with, I wouldn’t have had the stress and she would have had a grand time. Too late now. Maybe we’ll send out a family Valentine. Jenna, when you read this, consider yourself asked.
Merry Christmas everyone!