a time to keep

Packing while unpacking.

It seems like a contradiction, but it’s really just a delicate consideration about things kept, things discarded, things remembered, and decisions therein. One doesn’t pack up a house … a history … without a little unpacking of the soul alongside.

A time to keep and a time to throw away, as Solomon would say.

Such has been my portion since April 10th, the day I first learned of our impending move to Benson, NC. It almost seems like yesterday when our moving van pulled up to the parsonage in Laurinburg and we began to unpack our lives here.

Six years of living history in this space. Six years of being loved, being sheltered, being known, and being well-cared for. Saint Luke UMC has been a good place to grow and to rest our hearts. Some would call us crazy for leaving this place, this congregation and this community. In fact, on paper, it doesn’t make much sense as far as pastoral moves go.

But every now and again, “what makes sense” gets trumped by something greater, something higher, something more akin to choosing “what’s best for now” over “what’s been best for the past six years.” And that best for us?

Moving closer to home.

“Home?” you might ask.

Yes, home. You see, for me, home is portable.

It’s not a place. It’s a people. It’s not a house. It’s a family.

And my membership in a family began a long time before I married Preacher Billy. Before I was part of the Olsen family, I was part of the Killian family. Before I was a pastor’s wife or Nick, Colton, Jadon, and Amelia’s mom, I was a daughter. I still am. I belong to Chuck and Jane, and they belong to me. We’ve been a family for fifty-three years.

I spent the first twenty-one years of my life living under their roof in Wilmore, KY. Eight years later, I returned home for an additional three years where they continued to parent me as well as their two young grandsons. I moved away from Kentucky a final time in 1998, and four years later in 2002, my folks followed suit, relocating to North Carolina to be closer to their family. Dad left his fruitful career as a professor at Asbury Seminary to pastor two small churches in Mayodan, NC, while mom came along for the ride as his help-mate.

Apparently, “home” was portable for them as well.

Not a place, but a people. Not a house, but a family.

Us. We are that family. We were the reason they uprooted their existence of thirty plus years and said good-bye to their community, their countless friends, and their comfort. If you asked them today, I don’t imagine they’d voice any regrets. Their great sacrifice has been our great gain. The life we’ve shared together because of their being closer to us cannot be calculated in dollars and cents. It can only be measured in the heart, in those deep kinds of ways that shore up a foundation, solidify a history, and fortify a future. My parents brought “home” to us seventeen years ago.

Two months from now, we will have the rich privilege of returning the favor … of bringing “home” to them. For how long, only God knows. But for however long he ordains, we will be able to “do life” more practically with our parents. More time together. More face to face. More memories made because of more access. And that, friends, is what is best for now.

A home delivery to the Killian family from the Olsen family.

Indeed …

A time to keep.

Even so, Lord Jesus, grant us your peace for the journey as we walk these next steps in absolute faith and expectation. Amen.

16 Responses to a time to keep

  1. Beautifully put, Elaine. I get it, this was Eric and I two years ago. Happy for you and your family, however, sad for my St Luke’s church family. Thoughts and prayers for smooth sailing on your relocation. Blessings! Loretta and Eric Henry

    • I don’t imagine it will all be smooth sailing, but we’re sailing with Jesus and, therein, is our peace! We love you and so enjoyed having Barbara with us recently.

  2. You are indeed a faithful child both to your earthly parents and to your heavenly father. As they have blessed you so shall you bless them.

    • I remember 9 years ago, leaving our beloved Pine Forest. Thank you for being my friend then, and thank you for being my friend now. It’s amazing to think how this ministry life has brought us into the lives of so, so many. We are rich beyond words!!!

  3. Such a wonderful blessing to be near your folks in this season, prayers and smooth transition to you.

  4. Elaine ~
    Your words always give us thoughts and wisdom to ponder. Your love for family and the body of Christ is always apparent no matter where God takes you!
    I especially loved the last words of this post:

    “Even so, Lord Jesus, grant us your peace for the journey as we walk these next steps in absolute faith and expectation. Amen.”
    … in absolute faith and expectation!! Yes and amen to that!
    Come, Lord Jesus, come!! We wait expectantly for you to take us to be where you are!

    John 14:1-3 [Jesus’ Words]
    14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.

    There is the reason our homes here on earth are portable… because our home is ultimately to be WITH JESUS… in the very place He has prepared for us!

    That is our greatest hope and expectation!

    Until that Day… He is with you wherever you set your feet!

    Choosing Joy~
    Psalm 126

  5. May God’s blessings continue, how blessed you are to still have your parents ,enjoy the moments ,as one day, they will be sweet memories. God’s speed on this new journey.

    • Thanks, Faye, for these words of encouragement and for joining us during this season of transition in life.

  6. I always love your writing and insight. I wish your family the best! Spending time with your parents is precious. I’m glad you will have this time together. You have spoken words to my heart that has gotten me through some difficult choices. Thank you.

    • Girl… I’mm going to miss you and all our good talks. I appreciate your continued support of my writing. Folks like you are why I keep sharing my heart.

  7. Beautiful thoughts from a beautiful heart, as always. You will surely be missed by those you leave behind. But I know this is a move that can no longer be postponed. I am glad Abba Father has granted the desires of your heart. You are an obedient one, Elaine. Hugs!

    • When I think of all the “chapters” we’ve written while doing life together via cyberland, Lidia, well… God’s grace has come to me many times through you. I am grateful. Thank you for your prayers in this. You are a blessing to all who know you. I love you.

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