Friday, December 24, 2010

New Traditions...

We've been having a lot of conversations between the two of us about what Christmas should stand for in our little family. As newlywed's its been interesting to learn about the different ways our families celebrated Christmas, and we're finding ourself in this little place of choosing what that will mean for us. It's been fun, challenging sometimes, but always ending in laughter and reminding ourselves what Christmas really means...

So a few new things happening in the Markley household...

1. We're staying in NC for Christmas! I've typically boarded a plane around 6am Christmas morning and went to my brother's house. We've decided that for now we will always spend Christmas morning at our house. There are many reasons for this, but the big one is related to tradition #2.

2. We're going to always be a part of Christmas Eve at Crosspointe. Yes, it is sorta my job, but even if I didn't have to be there, I wouldn't want to miss it for anything. Today we're wrapping up the final 4 of 7 services this week. We expect to be exhausted, so why wouldn't we spend some time at home on Christmas?

3. We're heading to Durham Rescue Mission tomorrow morning to celebrate with the men in the shelter as they receive their Christmas gifts. The folks at Crosspointe generously gave all of the presents for the men, women and children in the shelter. We figured it would be fun to be a part of actually "giving" them their gifts... So in our exhaustion we're getting out of bed and going to the mission at 6am. As painful as the early wake up sounds, I'm getting more and more excited about it by the minute!

4. We're hosting friends! We have a few friends who don't have family nearby, so after we serve, we're having brunch. It's a treasure to have friends who are like family!

5. And we're anxiously awaiting news from friends and family. I'll admit, as excited as I am to be "home" for Christmas, there is grief in my heart about not seeing any of our relatives and close friends from outside the area. A few weeks ago the cards started coming in, and we had an idea... let's not open one of them and instead put them on our tree until Christmas morning. So, we're excited to see the faces, read the stories, and hear from our loved ones Christmas morning, even if it isn't in person.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Identity

I find that I'm in this weird season of re-discovering who I am, and more importantly, learning "whose" I am.

I got married. And my world has drastically shifted. I knew it was coming (we had a few months of planning) but what I didn't know how to plan for was the new identity that came with my new role of "wife."

First, let me say, I LOVE marriage. I LOVE my husband, and I wouldn't change anything, even if it meant more comfort in my heart through this transition.

But, this new identity, is hard one.

No, its not about names, as I've already mentioned to some of you that I still often times correct myself... "hello, my name is Pam McKerr... I mean Markley" is a common phrase.

It's the new role. Let's face it, I've NEVER been a wife before. And like other things, I really want to be excellent at it. But I'm not sure how to do that...

I'm not sure how to be a friend that is "married" or a pastor who is "married" or a wife who is a "pastor."

I'm finding that this change also brings about thoughts of who I want to be and what type of person I want to be. I am redefining what matters most, and what takes precedence in life. It's confusing. difficult. and sometimes makes me want to hide under the covers.

But I find myself incredibly thankful that my friends, co-workers, and husband are all quite patient with me as I figure out how this new role affects all other areas of my life. I am more so, incredibly thankful for a God who has planned this for me, who knew where I would be, and chose this man for me, and will guide me through the process.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

World AIDS Day

I was in 8th grade when I first heard the phrases HIV and AIDS. I remember the panic, and I remember the "talks" we had in class. I also remember when Magic Johnson made public the fact that he had HIV. I remember hearing a lot of statistics, and really HIV/AIDS was only a bunch of statistics to me... until I moved to Tanzania in 2006. When I started walking around Unga Limited with mama Diwani, I started to see the faces and hear the stories of people affected by HIV/AIDS, and the lack of education on how to prevent the spread of the disease.

It was in Unga Limited that I met Elizabeth. The girl who will forever for me be the face of AIDS. I met her a few months before AIDS took her life and I am forever changed. It will forever break my heart to think about the fact that a disease that can so easily be prevented has taken the lives of so many like Elizabeth.

Waiting...

Simply put... I'm impatient. When I desire something... I often lack the desire to wait for it. Sometimes you don't really have much choice to wait, and recently, a desire of a lifetime was filled. And while the wait wasn't always fun, I will say emphatically that it was worth it. Well worth it.

I was that girl. The girl who was always watching her friends in relationships. I didn't date much in high school. I had a very protective big brother and most boys in school were scared to come near me. Even with a big brother I still managed to date the wrong guys, the guys that no one wants their daughter dating. By the grace of God, and with the protection of an older brother, I made it through. I was the girl who watched her girlfriends as they were "wooed" by this guy, adored by that guy. As I approached college, I watched a handful of them fall in love and get married. And I stood. Waiting. I won't dare say it was easy. I believe God created us for relationships... and this is only one type of relationship, but for many girls, it is THE relationship they are waiting for.

I didn't date much in college either. My girlfriends were always dating, but after high school, I became much pickier. Not long before graduation I discovered Christianity, and my world changed drastically. I had a new found purpose and a new identity. Up until this point my desire for a significant other was out of the overflow of a heart that felt incomplete, and out of a heart that desperately longed to be loved. But now, I found wholeness in who I was in Christ. That didn't change the desire to one day find a man to share life with, it just changed the motivation, and to be quite frank, the criteria. I didn't want to date just anyone, but at the same time, there was a lot of grief around my girlfriends always "having someone" and me being alone. I'll be honest, it was hard. I can remember one summer where 8 of my girlfriends got married, and I was still waiting.

Then came life after college. And I continued to wait. I went out with a few guys, but they weren't "the guy." I watched other friends get married, the previous friends have babies, and I continued to wait. I can remember the paradox I would experience, great joy for my friends, as they found "the guy" or held little bundles of joy (it is no secret to those who know me that I have always looked forward to being a wife and a mom.) I was so thrilled for my friends, but inside I would grieve, and I would ask God, when is it my turn?

Then I hit 30. And honestly, I was shocked that I was still Miss McKerring as I entered my 30's. All of my girlfriends, save 2, had married. Most of them had children. And when I reached 30, the high school students I mentored in college were now marrying, some of which having children... and I waited. And sometimes in my waiting, my attitude wasn't pretty. There were some pretty un-glorious conversations between me and God. Ask me sometime, I'll tell you.

And now I am going to be "that girl." The girl who has crossed "that line" into marriage and says, I am SO glad I waited.

By waiting, I have had some of the most AMAZING experiences in the world. I've traveled among a variety of cultures, I've been able to love people in many different languages, I've been unhindered in my ability to go and serve when opportunities arose.

By waiting, I learned that I really can talk, kick, scream, throw a fit, beg, plead, trust, obey, listen, rejoice with God about anything.

By waiting, I don't have as many regrets. I willfully admit that I did have a few things about my dating life I would have changed before I met Jason, but once I became picky, and changed my perspective on what I was waiting for and why... I had none. If only I had that perspective in high school. I'd have no regrets.

And the best part of waiting... is the man in the picture.
He is EXACTLY the perfect man for me. He pursues me. He loves me for me. His heart for others mirrors mine, and his quirkiness matches my quirkiness. We aren't identical, if anything we are quite opposite in many ways. Our approach to problem solving is different (engineer meets social worker?), our approach to time management is different, he thinks logically and linearly, I'm all over the place. But when we meet each other where the other person is at, the most beautiful collision of personalities occurs. Never in my dreams did I imagine God doing something so beautiful in my life. I am so glad I did not settle earlier in life. This adventure I am on, couldn't be matched. Jason loves me, for me, not for someone I might one day be. He cares for me in ways that I need caring for. He encourages me to pursue my passions and my heart, even if it might affect our plans. He embraces my free spirit, but also helps me to ground myself a bit. His committment to Christ, outshines that of any man I have ever dated, and inspires me in my committment to my marriage and to my own walk with Jesus.

There was a point, when I thought all the "quality guys" must have been taken. And I figured I would just have to give up on that dream of marriage and one day parenting cause settling still wasn't an option. And even as I doubted in my waiting that it would ever be possible, God stepped in, and put this wonderful man in front of me.

He was well worth the wait.