Hey dears! I’ve got some updating to do, and so without further ado – here we go!
Today would have been Chris’s and my 14th anniversary. Cheers, and all that.
It seems like a fitting day to share with you all that ten Charleston-area United Methodist churches have committed to establish a scholarship in Chris’s memory at Africa University, a United Methodist-related school in Zimbabwe. Africa University exists to educate leaders in a pan-African context, and the work they do is beautiful. $10,000 will endow a scholarship, and these ten churches have committed to raise that amount. If you’d like to help, contributions can be sent to: Ms. Elaine Jenkins/Africa University Development Office/P.O. Box 340007/Nashville, TN 37203-0007. Please note that the funds are to go to “The West Ashley/Sea Islands Project” (the scholarship will be renamed “The Rev. Chris Barrett Memorial Endowed Scholarship” when it is funded).
We just had a whirlwind couple of weeks in the Carolinas – in addition to beach and visiting time with family and friends, I worshiped and sang with members of Christ’s body at Waters Edge UMC in Lady’s Island, SC, St. Andrews Parish UMC in Charleston, SC, Central UMC in Florence, SC, Cherokee Presbyterian Church in Gilbert, SC, St. James UMC in Spartanburg, SC, and the Parish of St. Eugene in Asheville, NC. Beautiful time with a lot of you beautiful people. As part of the evening concerts, I took a love offering, to help the churches cover the cost of cleaning, etc., to cover the payments for the musicians who were hired to play, and to offer Inheritance of Hope, the organization that sent Chris and the children and me on our Legacy Retreat (read that story here), a gift.
You people. One church refused its money, one gig musician (the one, naturally, who traveled four hours roundtrip to play at his second concert) asked that his payment go to IoH, and in the end, we raised $1,000 for this organization I love. That’s enough to fully sponsor an entire Legacy Retreat – lodging, entertainment, evening childcare, therapy, food, everything – for one child. In other words, because of your generosity, another child with a terminally ill parent will have the same beautiful experience our three had. Thank you. Thank you so very, very much.
Next: the Valley album is now available for immediate purchase! This “release” has been a little haphazard, mostly because I’m a bit swamped by logistics these days, and I appreciate everyone’s patience so very much! But the awesome folks at Bandwear are handling orders now, and here’s a cool thing – if you purchase a physical copy of the album, you’ll immediately get a digital version. How fun is that? Order here.
Finally, a bit of future-looking. I entered this time in SC with a pretty strong sense that I have too many things on my plate (the string of 3am bedtimes and the many dropped details were a good clue :)). I can’t tell exactly what to do about it yet: many of the responsibilities I have are not negotiable, and I wouldn’t want them to be (the parenting, just for an example). The freelance work seems to be the thing that’s legitimately expendable, but I also heard directly from several people on this trip that some of the blogging in particular has been useful in their walk with God. So I’m going to take an intentional hiatus from now until the children are back in school in early August, and then we’ll see what space emerges, and I’ll pray into that space to see where God might be leading. It may be that I continue to do some music and writing, only less regularly; it may be that there’s a longer break. I just don’t know yet. But I am not anxious about it – God has led us so faithfully, and God will continue to help me learn how to listen, and the work that is needful to do for the part of God’s beloved family I touch – well, there’s probably a lot less of it than I think there is, and what is truly needful will get done. 🙂
In the meantime, please, love each other well. Listen to each other carefully. Remember that we belong to Jesus, and that what God requires of God’s children is that we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. Keep it simple – watch what comes in to your hands, your space, and be constantly asking the question, “What does love – or the willingness to work and even sacrifice for God’s best intentions for this person, who is as beloved as I am – look like?” Remember how fully you are loved, and how little you have earned it, and extend that same grace and compassion and willingness to see hidden beauty – extend those things that have already been offered freely to you to those around you – family, co-workers, friends, neighbors you don’t know, and even the folks in your social media feeds. Love well; love truthfully; love sacrificially. Love has already sacrificed himself for you.
Be well, loves. And offer yourself as a blessing – straight from the hands of God to your neighbor.