I’m feeling a bit nostalgic in these summer weeks amidst this, the 10th anniversary of some major markers in my life. In June of 2009, I graduated from Wake Forest with my Master of Divinity degree. Two weeks later, I moved to Louisville, bought my first house, and started my first full-time job in ministry as Minister to Young Adults at Highland Baptist Church. The next month, I returned to Knoxville for the Bearden High School Class of 1999’s 10-year reunion, where there I reconnected with one Josh McGee, a guy I had barely known in high school but who 10 years later sparked considerable interest in me. A week after that whirlwind reunion and the days that followed that were quickly sweeping me into a current of young love, I returned to Knoxville to be ordained to the gospel ministry from my home church of First Baptist. That weekend, I received blessing after blessing from those who had raised me in the faith and called me to this work of Love, and introduced Josh to the vast majority of my dearest friends and family (and my brother, ever the jokester, quickly nicknamed him ‘Reunion Boy’). Needless to say, the summer of 2009 was a big one! A degree, a move, a house, a job, an ordination, and my love — all within a matter of dizzying weeks that, each and of themselves, changed my life.

I sit here now, a decade older (and hopefully wiser!), with overwhelming gratitude for God’s presence despite all the gains and losses in all the days in-between. Over these years, I’ve lost more than just sleep! I’ve lost my starry-eyed optimism about love and ministry, and my certainty that I’d gotten it all figured it all out. I’ve had to say goodbye to homes and communities, grieve the loss of loved ones and strongly-held beliefs, bid farewell to freedoms and identities of my adolescent experience. 

But I’ve also gained more than just gray hairs and wrinkles and knowledge about building projects! I’ve added friends and villages and fellow travelers on the journey of life and faith, strengthened my abundant love for Josh, broadened my soul’s connection with God’s work of love called ministry, opened to holy mystery in everyday life, and expanded my heart by the three greatest treasures who call me ‘mama.’ In every way, every day, God continues to invite me into deeper recognition of who and whose I am. For that and for the gift of these ten years of life, love, and ministry, I say thanks be to God!

Together in the work of Love,
Pastor Emily

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