Sunday, August 7, 2016


Today was my last Sunday as director of music ministry at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in New Orleans. Last night, my beautiful, sweet, caring, fun, and amazing congregation threw me a gigantic going away party and fundraiser. 
It was a 50's themed Grease dinner/dance event, complete with poodle skirts, pony tails, delicious 50's comfort foods, live music, tributes, balloons, letter jackets, and much more! 
Here's a piece of the Second Line I got to lead with my parasol "made of Episcopal colors!"   
(Please excuse the giant gap between the video and this text...something in the embed code I don't understand!) 
As usual, I was a little nervous, but that passed very quickly as people entered, laughter ensued, and hugs were shared. SUCH a wonderful evening! I got to talk to so many folks that I wouldn't have been able to reach otherwise because of everyone's busy schedule. 
I also got to dance and I was serenaded - twice! The first song was "Summer Nights" from Grease with new lyrics written by my dear friend Meg that totally busted me and my stickers, puns, and coffee habits. I laughed SO HARD! Everyone enjoyed that and laughed right along with me! I promise to add the photo of the lyrics tomorrow. (It's in my car down the block and I am being lazy right now.)
*holding spot for the picture / text *
Next, I was given the benediction written by John Rutter sung by three choir members and it was super lovely and heartfelt. I cried. I love them so much.
Several folks spoke and my heart is so full from hearing their kind words. I will miss everyone so very much. 
My organist Liliia, who has taken up painting as a hobby, even painted a portrait of me WITH STARS in the background! 
I know that I will return. I will see them again. It's difficult to leave, but I am SO EXCITED for the journey ahead! I'm deeply grateful for St. Paul's - my choir, Fr. Rob, Bishop Duncan Gray, Fr. Ed, the congregation, the staff, our amazing school, and the beautiful building itself. I thank God EVERY DAY for this place and such genuinely loving people. I have changed in seven years here and I have grown. I have opened. 
In a super cliche of words....
I am extremely grateful!
It's hard for me to accept gifts sometimes. It's also hard sometimes to accept unconditional love. I have trouble during these wonderful times with overthinking and wondering what I can do to say thanks or to give back in response to such wonderful support and love. I will "give back" by studying my rear off (and there's plenty of THAT to work off!), working on a fulltime ministry of BEING - and at that - being a student of theology. This is all a given. It's what I'm going to seminary to do. In addition, I am stepping back and enjoying this love and these fun times. I am accepting this wondrous love. I am simply being grateful. 
You know what? It makes it easier to see God this way.
God is love...
I see God in the people of St. Paul's and in their ministries. I see it in the ways that they interact with me and with others. I'm seeing and experiencing God in the outpouring of thanks and love.
Expressing gratitude helps us benefit from the world and people around us. By getting out of ourselves, we become blessed. It also helps me to think that one doesn't create gratitude, but one sort of...."channels" it. How do we know the depths of gratitude? I think we must become aware of its source which for me, is God. Practicing gratitude allows us to connect with God through the humility it brings, followed by God's grace. How's that for a cool circle / trinity of motion?! 
Gratitude also reveals how much we need God, love, and each other.
So, THANK YOU my dearest St. Paul's and friends!!!! I love you all! I will savor the love, kind words, songs, cards, gifts, and laughter.  Thank you SO MUCH for my very first study Bible and the GORGEOUS St. Paul's cross! Thank you for also letting me keep my office laptop as I am in need of a computer that isn't thirteen years old with 100 MB left on it (yikes!) 
You are not only in my heart, but you own a piece of it :-) 
"God be with you til we meet again..."
(I'll be returning to New Orleans for holidays after semester exams and Sewanee's Lessons & Carols and I'll be spending a couple of weeks in the Crescent City. It will be in a different capacity, but I will be helping out at St. Paul's as needed. I know I'll probably be doing some singing. In the community, I'll be conducting a New Orleans Civic Symphony concert and the fabulous St. Paul's Lessons & Carols!)

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