The Only Constant Is Change
– John Hugh
I wrote this blog a month ago. We did not publish it because we took a much needed vacation. We’ve celebrated to 2 birthdays (my birthday and Linda’s) and headed to the beach for the first time in 3 years. All to say, I had to re-read this blog post. What a difference a month makes.
I initially wrote about the start of summer. A new season with new starts. People ready to get out to start back with life again. It was a new season, even with Covid-19. Things were opening up: restaurants, bars, beaches, churches.
In the midst of such anticipation, unrest exploded. Violence occurred in many cities, peaceful protest in others. People made the voices heard, whatever way possible. Deep wounding and hurt were expressed across generations. Many began to see the need for both reconciliation and restoration across lines of race. We have – or will have – a new state flag here in Mississippi.
Now, cases are spiking again. New shut-downs are in order. Possibly more to come. U.S. citizens were going to be able to travel to Europe. Now, they’re not. Covid-19 doesn’t take a summer break.
2020 continues. No one knows what will happen next. Much has changed since the first draft of this blog. In fact, our only constant is change. In this season, change is amplified, heightened to a large degree. Some change is negative – life in Covid-19. Much change is still positive – new flags, new recognitions.
What can we do in the midst of change? For us, we feel refreshed, ready, & equipped to begin the next phase of our move. As we run into people, the same 2 questions always arise:
Are you still moving?
Yes, we are! Our convictions have not changed.
When are you moving?
Our timeline has shifted, but we are looking and hoping for October 2020.
We are still going to Paris.
We are going to be part of a network of international churches in this global city and to eventually plant a new church. For me, I’m acclimating into the culture of these two churches (EIC Rueil and EIC Ternes) with weekly staff Zoom meetings, conversations, and plans for the fall. While not physically present in Paris, I’ll be preaching for the churches this month. Like many churches, they continue with online services. We are getting more integrated into the lifeline of these churches, and this grows our excitement and intentionality to be with them in person.
When will we go?
We can’t give an exact date yet. Our plan and hope is to arrive in September 2020. As of today, the EU is not allowing US citizens to enter with the exception of essential workers. The EU evaluates their list of countries and respective citizens ability to enter every two weeks. We hope US citizens will be on this list soon, so we can begin our visa process & be ready to move as soon as we can.
We are raising all our financial support.
Many have moved from being interested to becoming financial partners, often people and churches we never expected to come alongside. We can only express this as deep gratitude. To be totally dependent on the trust and faith of others is to be in a posture of consistent thankfulness. It’s a great way to live daily, even in uncertainty.
We are spending time sharing our vision on a personal level.
This gives us the chance to say both goodbyes and delve into intimate details of why we are going and what we will be doing. Such time is fruitful and rewarding as we develop deeper relationships with old friends and stronger connections with new partners for the future. We’ll continue this during our remaining time in the US, and we look forward to meeting with all who care about us and the vision we’re moving into.
There are the logistics of moving.
We have to sell our home of 16 years in Mississippi while investigate a new home to land in Paris. We have to explore schooling and commute distances to work in Paris. So we are busy getting our house ready in Mississippi and looking for opportunities to live in Paris. Thankfully, options have been placed before us for housing in Paris that excite us. We want to use our call to Paris to host others who have an interest in churches in global cities, Paris, or simply want to pay us a visit. We hope to host many friends, even in our first year.
Some things we can control, others we cannot.
We are growing in our everyday faith, in our family unit, and in our patience. We choose to focus in on the things we can control, and not fret about what we cannot. This basic, yet often difficult, truth allows us to make the most of each day, thinking about what we can do to “move the ball forward” even in this season of change.
For us, we are starting anew.
We are changing everything, as we move forward fully into this new venture in Paris, even with global and cultural landscapes changing. Uncertainty and the unknown looms, as in all seasons of change. I have 3 thoughts to keep in perspective, as we navigate all the changes life brings about. They are, in a simplified form: created to create, new visions, & new opportunities.
Created to Create
First, we are all created to create. We have to keep this in mind. Great change can cultivate great creativity. I don’t just mean the artist or entrepreneur. We all are created to create. To use biblical imagery, in Genesis 1 & 2, God created the world. Then He created humanity. In doing so, He created them in the image of God, what many call, imago Dei. If God is the Creator and He created us, all of us in His image, then He made us into “sub-creators.” Literally, this teaching means we are created to create and cultivate – the home, the city, society, churches, the world. As each of these changes, we can create from within them. And much of our creativity lies in changing them, making them better.
I take this as a positive in a time of such upheaval, personal and national. Instead of people taking a breather over the summer, this new season has become one of many new starts: of imagining what is possible, of dreaming big, of taking a chance to step out of the norm, of the comfortable, because we can all enter into a new and different season, even a different world.
People are changing and creating new ways of gathering, worshipping, socializing, protesting, and living together. None is set yet. A lot is still being put together. Yet there remains a palpable energy, zeal, and passion felt by individuals and communities to live. When we realize we are created to create, we can change, and make change, for the better.
Creativity can lead to a change of visions or even a new vision. I love vision. It’s a good thing: to see the future and make it a reality.
New visions have arisen, are arising, and awaiting. How can we all live together in a better, healthier way? How can organizations, businesses, churches, teams, units, families, come to a new place of flourishing within change? What new enterprises, campaigns, or churches could start now? How can they contribute to the common good? These are positive questions.
Questions are the birth of vision, the seed of growth. It begins with, “Why not?” Visions of a better society, a more just society, and how we as individuals can build it, are being shaped. Such visions are being worked out, as all visions are, because they take time to percolate, marinate, manifest, self-correct, and connect with others. This season has the potential to be one of great vision. It can be realized.
With all change comes new opportunities. Pandemic and protest give us an opportunity to consider new ways of living and relating to one another. New ways of creating safe spaces where people can feel not only heard, but healed. Opportunities to see, connect, and relate to that other person of a different background, skin color, and set of beliefs.
This is a season of opportunity: more time with loved ones, less time with screens, news, and social media. We have an opportunity to start new relationships. An opportunity to create new works. I think there will be a deluge of great artistic works coming out of this season. Opportunities to draw closer to faith, to the things that unite us. I hope we all make the most out of the opportunities before us.
Our Next Stage
For us personally, we are trying to be people who create vision, positive change, and opportunity for others in this very move to Paris. We move forward to a new work, a new season, and a new life, in Paris and beyond. We know not what it will bring, only that change will be constant. We intend to walk into this change with the right perspective, passion, and purpose guiding us. There will be starts, re-starts, back to square one, and new perspectives all along the way. It’s not all about where we’ve been, it’s more about where we end up. It’s not even about where you start, it’s about where you finish. April (or July) does not define a baseball team, October does.
But we all have to start, to get going, to rise up, and to move forward. I want our lives and our family to be an example to this. I have great faith. I want it to grow even more – to expand beyond what I think possible. To not have daily fear of past, present, or future, but to have daily faith that the best is yet to come. And I do believe that. Where do we all go from here? This is an opportune time for all of us to start each day, with that vision – the best is yet to come, whatever change comes at us.
ARE YOU STILL MOVING? YES…
Yes, we are still planning to move to Paris this September 2020. Thank you to our partners so far! We are humbled by those who are supporting us. We are committed to this mission, regardless of a pandemic or other deterrents. If you are interested in partnering, join us in our journey today.
THANKS FOR READING!
Below are 2 compilation videos of our Instagram Stories (April 21-May 10, 2020). Be sure to check out our social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) for more pictures. Browse our Travel posts, share this post, or leave a comment below.
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