It’s just less than a month now before we pack up all our worldly belongings and transplant our family from Wheaton, Illinois, to Conway, Arkansas. As we’ve talked to friends and family about our move in recent days, it has become clear that we have not communicated what it is we’ll be doing with ourselves in the coming months and years. So I thought it might help to give you the bullet-point version of things here.
First—and to be completely honest—we don’t know what the future holds beyond 2013. And we’re really okay with that. There is no five year plan. But here’s what we know for sure:
We are confident God is drawing us to Arkansas for the next season of our lives. We’ve been thinking and praying about a move for a couple of years now. We’ve been fairly sure our time in Wheaton was coming to an end, as disappointing as that is in many ways. But we have lacked clarity about our calling and seemed to be pushing up against closed doors. Early this year, though, we felt a clear sense that we can be of greatest use in Christ’s kingdom in Central Arkansas. At least for now. Frankly, we don’t know why. But I suspect we’ll find out.
I will continue freelancing in the publishing industry. I’ve recently started working with Moody Publishers as an independent strategist and acquisitions editor. That work will occupy about half my time and will stabilize the otherwise feast or famine nature of freelance living.
I’ll also be writing. My coauthor, Randy, and I have just signed a contract for another book together for InterVarsity Press. I’d tell you more about that, but it’ll be two years before it’s in print, so you’ll have forgotten by then. Meanwhile I have a couple of personal projects I hope to pursue. And I plan to blog more regularly. We’ll see how that goes.
In short, I have the extraordinary opportunity to participate actively in publishing, Christian higher education, and ministry all at once. It is in this intersection that I’m the most fruitful and fulfilled. I’m happy to dwell there as long as it makes sense.
In some ways the coming transition will be more dramatic for Amy. She is stepping down from her post at Immanuel, a job she loves among a people we consider family. She’s excited to have more time with Jamie, especially during our time of transition in Arkansas. And the transition away from nearly-full-time ministry will give her opportunity to explore new areas of her giftedness.
For example, she will be teaching an introduction to children’s ministry course at OBU in the fall. This means, of course, that I will be the second-most-popular O’Brien on campus. Or maybe the third, if Jamie works his magic.
There are some opportunities materializing for Amy to do more writing and for her to consult with area churches as they innovate ways to include children more meaningfully in the life and worship of the church—exciting possibilities!
For the next few weeks our schedules are full of last things—Amy’s last VBS at Immanuel kicked off today. There are only a couple more gatherings of the Einstein Earlybirds before we leave. We are sharing meals with dear friends—not for the last time ever, but for the last time as neighbors. So we are sad to say goodbye.
But when July comes, ours schedules will be full of new things, first things. So we are full of hope and anticipation and gratitude for the good things God is doing with us.