New You, New Year

As always, blogging about blogging, thinking about sharing, sharing about thinking: Another year goes by!

I put a few official dispatches via my church’s monthly newsletters, but of course those words are pastoral in nature. What’s the difference between that and blog thoughts? Hopefully the honesty is the same. But perhaps blogs can be less edited, which is why I think it’s funny that blogs ever became highly-followed… perhaps some people have more coherent thoughts before editing than I do.

Why blog today? I’m thinking about some thoughts that I want to remember, and I thought they might be more fun to put into the digital ether, instead of simply in my journal. After all, I pay about $18 a year for this domain name! Might as well use it. I may convert it to a portal to contact me about spiritual direction, at some point, when I’m officially CERTIFIED.

Best music I enjoyed this year: Cheekface, more Cheekface, Beach Bunny, Bad Bad Hats, Rosie Tucker, Will Beeley, and more Cheekface.

Best book I read this year? Most useful: That preaching book by Andy Stanley. Most spiritual: Soulful Spirituality. Still didn’t get through a novel. Yeesh. (Unless you count comic books.)

Thoughts on pastoring: Glad to have some newish perspectives on pastoring still benefiting my tenure in Cleveland/Boyle: I’m a guest at someone else’s family reunion. I (try to) respond to people like they are children, giving them the grace that I would give kids, explaining things to them in ways that are accessible, relevant, and engaging. I’m cheerful, encouraging, patient, and conscious of how I’m different from them. I tell people what I want from them, and then I release them to do what they want. They certainly do not have to do what I want, but I remain clear about my desires, and they do what they want with that information. This means I need to be in touch with what I want from others: “Is it reasonable? WHY do I want them to do ____?”

I’m also trying to embrace my role as a spiritual direction who is serving as a pastor.

I’m also trying to think of myself as a full-time volunteer at the church. This also helps me maintain a certain emotional distance and a less controlling stance. I’m not responsible for everything. I’m not “in charge.” I’m just a supportive volunteer. Who is in charge? Hopefully Jesus! I’m just his volunteer full-time associate pastor. I’m doing my best, but I’m not responsible for everyone else, because they are adults like me. They aren’t full-time volunteers; they’re part-time, so my expectations should take that into account. It also feels good to think I’m doing this because I want to–out of the goodness of my heart (or the goodness God is doing through me)–not because I have to. Too many pastors complain about their jobs and their parishioners. (I’ve been one of those pastors!) It doesn’t help.

2021 brought lots of fun changes to my life: I joined a Crossfit-style gym called Unrated, in Cleveland, and I’ve gotten stronger. I go to classes three times a week, and now they’ve recently moved even closer to my home. Very convenient.

November 2021 marked a year since I became mostly vegan, especially when I’m choosing/buying my own foods to eat. In 2022, I plan to continue to explore ways I can cultivate a cheap, lazy, low-fat vegan diet, especially when it comes to long-term cooking and meal-planning.

I got into the financial independence / early retirement (FIRE) movement, learning a lot of the basics about financial management, investing wisely, and reducing my tax bill, while living simply and frugally for the sake of achieving financial independence in 12-17 years. Edith will graduate high school is 12.5 years, when I’m 50, and at 55, I should be able to start withdrawing from my 403b. I’d like to be able to visit her as much as possible (not that an adult daughter wants her parents visiting all the time!), but I want the free time to travel with her (and I hope to have the resources to pay her way). With two grandparents who didn’t live past their mid-sixties, I want to use my time wisely.

A plan for financial independence and potential early retirement means making the most of the 12.5 years I’ll continue serving as a full-time pastor, if I cut it that short. It’s nice to imagine that I won’t still be in committee meetings in my sixties! Thankfully, we don’t have a lot of committee meetings at St. Luke or Boyle, and that’s one of the reasons I love pastoring here.

I’ve got more to type, but I’m gonna take a break. If you stumble upon this post, and want to share your own 2021 adventures and 2022 hopes, please comment below.

2021 goals: Run, read 26 books, don’t trifle away time online, eat vegan, no alcohol.

2022 goals: Preach & teach well (try out a new small group); exercise at the gym; play guitar; cook cheap/lazy/low-fat vegan; travel to see friends; spend more time outside.

Peace & Love,

Brad

“The Drum Major Instinct” by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Listen if you dare. I don’t know if any of us will hear a more prophetic Word this weekend, this year, or this century.

You can also read it here, along with another audio option: http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/…/doc_the_drum_major_instinct/

A new book in the mail! “Psalms for Zero Gravity”

A lovely new arrival. Here’s a selection from “The Psalm of Wednesday”:

O God of Hide and Seek, who loves surprises,

         give me a peek at the new hidden inside the old.

Since life is like a many-layered onion,

         may I peel back a new layer this day.

O God, Ever-Present Beginning and End,

         help me this day to let some things end and others begin,

and to my delight may I discover a fresh face of you.