Well, it's official. My family is moving to Montana, where I've been called to pastor and teach. An exciting new era begins for the Smith family. My oldest daughter is a college student and will remain in Brownwood at Howard Payne University, where I have
taught for almost 5 years. Indeed,
the end of the Spring semester will make five full years. They have been good, enriching years at a good school. My coll
eagues are exceptional and my students have been a treasure... for the most part! I feel as though I am leaving my 18, almost 19 year old in good hands.
My youngest daughter will attend a junior high where Italian, German, Spanish and French is taught, as well as choir, band, orchestra and world percussion. She will also have the opportunity to perform with one of three ballet companies, including the Montana Ballet. At the local high school, many of the students are National Merit Scholars and go on to Ivy League schools. She will have the opportunity to learn to ride horses and learn to snow ski.
My wife will be able to pursue whatever vocation she would like. The world is her oyster in Montana. She can teach school, work at a university or for a myriad of other companies in a growing community. I know she is ready to settle in and contribute and I am as excited for her as I am for me!
We will live in a growing community of 40,000, located in the beautiful Rocky mountains. There is a major university, an arts community and an incredible outdoor recreation community. The church is promise itself - exactly the kind of church that suits my gifts and talents. The people in the congregation are hardy, lovely and committed. They are ready to reach out to their community.
I will hit the road running. This Spring, I will spend every other week in Montana, while commuting back to Brownwood to finish teaching my classes. Both my church and HPU have been very generous to allow this opportunity. I don't like loose ends, and though requiring lots of travel, it will allow me to bring closure to my full time teaching at this dear institution. On the weeks that I am in Brownwood, I will be teaching a Monday night New Testament Introduction and on Tuesdays and Thursdays I will be teaching my Christian Doctrines classes... Wednesdays will be office hours and thesis work. I will be staying in the guest house of a good friend in Brownwood, so I will have some private space to relax and collect my thoughts. Saturdays I will be returning to Montana.
As I get older, transitions become harder - and indeed, I find myself becoming more and more resistant to change - but I am committed to following God's call on my life and this is the move I need to make.
Brownwood has definitely been a time of sojourn for me. It has taken its toll in several areas of my life, but I've learned so much about 'me' and ministry that it has been worth it. I must thank my friends, Scott, Carol and Rob, for helping me through this time. These three friends have been privy to all of the difficulties I've encountered during my time here. I must thank my colleagues in the School of Christian Studies, as well as the Provost and President for understanding my burdens and making this transition easier than I would have thought. My friend Sam McCutchen and the Lady Jacket Soccer Team as well as Corey Ash and the HPU Yellow Jacket Band have become special as well. Some of you who read this blog are former students - you need to know that spending time with you was one of the great privileges of my life, especially you Caty.
I will miss all of you, but I am eager to move on now to what God has next for me after this May. It is time. Maybe this will be my last move; I hope so, but I will trust that God will do what He needs to do with me.
Rob, you're my best friend. Visit me this time.
Carol, I've missed you for two years now, but know that you are always my friend. You and your delightful family remains in my prayers.
Scott, I know I will see you soon. Might even convince you to move your practice up north!
Sam, I look forward to hosting you in the near future!
HPU faculty and students: you will always be welcome in my home and I hope to see you when you can make it up north! I hope to mentor some students in ministry from HPU and even possibly minister with some of you.
Well, time to close this entry. Today is my 47th birthday. I've got to pack and reflect some more. My mind is a whirl as I prepare for classes and this move.
I love you all.