Saturday, September 4, 2010

Thanksgiving and Reflection

September 2010

Dear Friends,

As this summer draws to a close, we write to you with hearts of gratefulness for the blessing of your friendship, especially throughout this past season. In one summer, we planned our wedding, celebrated our marriage in New York, drove across the country back home to Kansas, settled into our new apartment and started establishing a pattern of life together! This has been a time filled with excitement and change, and we are left honored by the stabilizing and comforting gift of your friendship in the midst of planning and transitioning.

Our wedding was such a gift of grace to us. The weather reports had been predicting thunderstorms for the longest time, but as we approached the hour of the wedding, the rain clouds started to pass and the skies opened up, presenting a small picture of the outpouring of beauty and blessing that we received from God on the day of our wedding. So many little pictures from our wedding day are still happily affixed in our memory – the white tent filled with friends and family staked out beside the red horse barn, the draft horses and the carriage slowly travelling down Bentley Lane, our vows and our solemn and joyful commitment to walk this journey of life together, the opportunity to sing in unison to our good God, the prayer of blessing for our cows and our chickens, the opportunity to greet and laugh with so many special friends and family who gathered to celebrate with us (including the tremendous gift of twenty eight of Adam’s friends and family from Kansas), the blue sky above and the white dinner tables dispersed across the farmhouse lawn, the good country cooking, the messages from friends and family and the Angell sibling rendition of “So Long, Farewell.” Yes, these, and so many memories besides, continue to bring us joy as we reflect on our wedding day.

We spent a restful week in the Adirondack Mountains following the wedding. We canoed to the mainland everyday from our little campsite at Norway Island and enjoyed hiking Mounts Ampersand and Marcy, biking and running by the lakeside. Our island was a perfect retreat. Surrounded by the lapping waves of Saranac Lake and the breeze of fresh mountain air, it was a little haven of rest in the midst of a busy summer. At the end of the week, our honeymoon continued with a car trip that took us from the eastern seaboard right to the heartland of America.

We were warmly welcomed to Wichita, KS by about twenty or more friends who helped us unpack and move our belongings to our new home: a cozy apartment in the Riverside district. Our cupboards were packed with food, the gift of our Crossroads church family (known in Kansas as a “pounding”), and our living room was stacked with boxes of gifts from friends and family across the country! What an overwhelming blessing! We just want to say thank you in so many ways for blessing us with your generosity and the many practical and very helpful gifts!

Our Wichita reception in August was a great day of celebration for those in Kansas who were not able to make it to the wedding in New York. We were again amazed by how people came from all over Kansas, Oklahoma and even Mexico to join us for a fun afternoon of cake, punch and fun conversation. Another approximately 150 people attended the gathering hosted by Adam’s friends, family, and church!

We are now settling into the rhythm of everyday life. Adam is continuing to serve on staff with Evangelical Friends Church Mid-America and Crossroads Friends Church. He has also started teaching a class at Barclay College on the side. Sarah is teaching science full-time at Northeast Magnet High School and is encouraged by the school culture and the helpfulness of her co-workers.

We continue to be grateful for your prayers that our married life would teach us to be faithful and loving disciples of Jesus Christ. In his writings, Henri Nouwen identifies three distinctive that characterized the life of Christ – solitude, community and ministry. Nouwen guides, challenges and encourages the disciple of Christ to pursue the same pattern of life. Solitude, explained Nouwen, is taking the time to hear our God tell us daily that we are His beloved. Community (including our life together in marriage) involves the act of constant forgiveness, the act of allowing someone close to us to not have to be God to us. Ministry occurs, Nouwen says, when we compassionately lead other people who are bent toward resentment to a place of gratitude. Please pray that even in our ordinary everyday lives together, we can faithfully pursue meaningful solitude, forgiving community and effective ministry.

With thankfulness,
Sarah Monaghan (For the two of us!)